Obama’s chef ID’d as paddleboarder who drowned near former president’s Martha’s Vineyard estate

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A paddleboarder who drowned near former President Barack Obama’s Martha’s Vineyard estate has been identified as Tafari Campbell, the Obamas’ personal chef. 

Campbell, 45, of Dumfries, Virginia, was recovered Monday morning a day after disappearing in the waters of Edgartown Great Pond on Martha’s Vineyard. 

Tafari Campbell

Tafari Campbell was the Obamas’ personal chef.  (White House)

Massachusetts State Police said Campbell was employed by the former president and was visiting Martha’s Vineyard at the time of his passing. Barack and Michelle Obama were not present at the home at the time of the accident, MSP said. 

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“Tafari was a beloved part of our family. When we first met him, he was a talented sous chef at the White House – creative and passionate about food, and its ability to bring people together. In the years that followed, we got to know him as a warm, fun, extraordinarily kind person who made all of our lives a little brighter,” the Obamas said in a joint statement. 

Martha's Vineyard

Edgartown police block off the road to Wilson’s Landing Monday. (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette)

“That’s why, when we were getting ready to leave the White House, we asked Tafari to stay with us, and he generously agreed. He’s been part of our lives ever since, and our hearts are broken that he’s gone. Today we join everyone who knew and loved Tafari – especially his wife Sherise and their twin boys, Xavier and Savin – in grieving the loss of a truly wonderful man.”

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Campabell’s body was found just before 10 a.m. Monday at a depth of about eight feet and 100 feet from the shore of Edgartown Great Pond. MSP divers recovered the body after Massachusetts Environmental Police officers used side-scan sonar from a boat to locate it, the agency said.

Edgartown Great Pond for missing paddleboarder

Authorities searching Monday morning at Edgartown Great Pond for missing paddleboarder (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette)

Authorities initially responded at 7:46 p.m. Sunday after receiving a call about a male paddleboarder who had struggled to stay above the water and then went under near Turkeyland Cove. Officials said the man did not resurface.

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Another paddleboarder was on the pond with him at the time and witnessed him go under the water, according to authorities.

Fox News’ Stephen Sorace contributed to this report. 



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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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