The man who drowned while paddleboarding on a pond outside the Obamas’ Martha’s Vineyard estate has been identified as the former US president’s personal chef.
Police authorities confirmed Monday afternoon, July 24 that the body of 45-year-old Tafari Campbell was found in 8-feet of water about 100 feet from the banks of the Obamas’ property on Edgartown Great Pond.
Emergency responders were dispatched to the 30-acre estate at 79 Turkeyland Cove Road Sunday evening after reports of a “possible drowning” in the water nearby.
Rescue efforts involving divers, Coast Guard helicopters, and resources from multiple agencies, were launched from the property overnight.
Campbell’s body was finally discovered around 10 a.m. Monday using sonar scanners deployed from a boat.
Tafari Campbell, 45, was found on the Obamas’ property. The Obamas were not home at the time of the incident, police confirmed.
“Tafari was a beloved part of our family,” the Obamas said in a statement Monday.
“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.
“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.”
Another person who had been paddleboarding on the pond when Campbell drowned said they saw him struggling in the water, then submerge without resurfacing.
He was wearing all black at the time, and did not have a lifejacket on. His board and hat were discovered shortly after search crews arrived.