The personal chef of the Obama family who was reported missing Sunday after he went paddleboarding near the former first couple’s home on Martha’s Vineyard was found dead Monday, authorities said.
The body of Tafari Campbell, 45, was recovered Monday at around 10 a.m. Eastern time about 100 feet from the shore of Edgartown Great Pond in water about 8 feet deep, the Massachusetts State Police said in a news release. Massachusetts Environmental Police searching the area by boat located the remains, officials said.
Former President Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama were not at their Martha’s Vineyard home at the time, police said. Campbell had been visiting the Massachusetts island, which sits just off of Cape Cod, from his home in Virginia.
In a statement, the Obamas described Campbell as 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 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.”
According to police, Martha’s Vineyard police and fire agencies responded to a call on Edgartown Great Pond, a coastal pond near Turkeyland Cove, about 7:45 p.m. Sunday reporting that a male paddleboarder was missing. According to another paddleboarder who police said witnessed the incident, the man appeared to briefly struggle to stay on the surface before disappearing underwater. He did not resurface, the Massachusetts State Police said in a statement.
Crews searched for hours Sunday night and resumed Monday morning, the MSP said.
Campbell leaves behind a wife and two children, according to the Obamas.
According to the Vineyard Gazette, a local magazine, the Obamas, who had often vacationed at Martha’s Vineyard, bought a 6,892-square-foot house on nearly 30 acres of land in Edgartown in front of the Edgartown Great Pond in 2019 for $11.75 million.