Tafari Campbell, the personal chef for Barack and Michelle Obama, was found dead Monday after drowning near the pair’s estate in Martha’s Vineyard. He was 45.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Massachusetts State Police received word about a missing paddle boarder on Sunday night after someone saw a man “struggle to stay on the surface” before submerging under water.
The following morning, officials reportedly found Campbell’s body “approximately 100 feet from shore at a depth of about eight feet.”
While the chef was employed by the former first couple, they were not at their Martha’s Vineyard residence at the time of the tragic drowning.
Hours later, the Obama family released a statement about the horrific incident, calling Campbell “a beloved part of [their] 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,” the statement read. “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.”
It continued, “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.”
Campbell’s wife also took to social media to mourn the loss of her husband of 23 years.
“Heartbroken 💔,” she captioned a photo of the chef on her Instagram Story Monday.
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She also shared a photo of her husband standing alongside their teenage sons, who wore matching black T-shirts and green cargo pants.
Campbell served as the sous chef in the White House kitchen during Barack’s eight-year presidential term. Once the former president left office, they hired Campbell to work for them full-time.
The State Police Detective Unit is currently conducting an investigation into the death for the Cape and Islands District and Edgartown Police.