Tafari Campbell, the “beloved” chef of former President Barack Obama and his family, died of, officials confirmed Tuesday.
Campbell, 45, was paddleboarding at Edgartown Great Pond on the night of July 23 when he was seen struggling in the water,at the time.
His cause of death was determined to be accidental drowning due to submersion in a body of water, according to Timothy McGuirk, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
Campbell, who was from Dumfries, Virginia, worked in the White House, and the Obamas considered him part of their family, the former president and first lady said in a joint statement in July. When the Obamas were getting ready to leave the White House, they asked him to keep working for them.
“He’s been part of our lives ever since, and our hearts are broken that he’s gone,” the Obamas said.
The Obamas have a residence on Martha’s Vineyard, but they were not at the home at the time of Campbell’s death, Massachusetts State Police said. Campbell was visiting the area at the time of the incident.
Searchers spent hours looking for Campbell the night he was reported missing, and his body was recovered the following morning. The recovery was made approximately 100 feet from shore at a depth of about eight feet.
Campbell is survived by a wife and twin boys, the Obamas said.
“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,” the Obamas said in their joint statement. “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.”
— Aliza Chasan contributed to reporting.