An official from the state of Massachusetts confirmed on Tuesday that the death of Tafari Campbell, the personal chef of former US president Barack Obama, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard was accidental.
Campbell, 45, drowned in late July while paddleboarding in seas near the former president’s residence. The following day, using sonar technology, his body was located 100 feet offshore and 8 feet below the surface of Edgartown Great Pond, a vast coastal pool that leads directly into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s spokesman Timothy McGuirk told the media that drowning was ruled the cause of death and that an accident was ruled the cause of death.
The tweet below confirms Obama’s chef has passed away:
— The Independent (@Independent) August 23, 2023
Police in Campbell’s home state of Massachusetts said at the time that he “was not wearing a personal flotation device and was not leashed to the paddle board” when he went overboard.
There was another paddle boarder with him, but that person has not been identified, and they tried to help but were unable to get to him in time. They said the second paddleboarder swam to shore and told someone what had transpired.
The Dukes County Regional Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call from the individual, prompting the deployment of multiple rescue teams.
After Mr. Obama finished his second term in 2017, he and his wife, Michelle Obama, announced last month that they had hired White House sous chef Thomas Campbell to work for the family.
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The Obamas announced in a statement after the tragedy, “Tafari was a beloved part of our family.” A brilliant sous chef at the White House, he was enthusiastic about food and its capacity to bring people together when we first met him.
In the years that followed, we came to know him as a friendly, humorous, and incredibly generous soul who brightened everyone’s day. For this reason, as we prepared to depart the White House, we kindly requested that Tafari accompany us. Since then, he’s been a vital member of our family, so his passing has hit us hard.
In 2012, Campbell briefly gained notoriety when he brewed what is said to be the first alcoholic beverage ever produced on the grounds of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue using honey collected from beehives placed by Ms. Obama on the South Lawn. The deceased chef was married to Sherise and had two young sons.
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