The body found in the water outside the estate of former US president Barack Obama on Martha’s Vineyard has been identified as his sous chef, Tafari Campbell. The 43-year-old African American reportedly drowned while paddleboarding.
Barack and Michelle Obama expressed their grief in a statement released on Monday, stating that Tafari was a beloved part of their family. They had met Tafari when he worked as a sous chef at the White House, and when he left in 2017, they asked him to continue working for them. Tafari had been with them ever since, and his sudden passing has left their hearts broken.
The incident was reported through a 911 call from the Obama estate, stating that an adult male wearing all black clothing had disappeared underwater on the Edgartown Great Pond on Sunday evening. The call was classified as a “possible drowning.”
A search and rescue operation involving multiple agencies was launched to find the missing individual. Massachusetts State Police, the US Coast Guard, Edgartown Fire, and Dukes County Sheriff’s Department were all involved. Firefighters combed the shore of Turkeyland Cove while police went door to door in search of any leads. However, on Sunday, only a paddle board and a hat were recovered.
The search resumed on Monday morning, and a side-scan sonar mounted on a Massachusetts Environmental Police boat was used to locate the body. The remains were found about 30 meters from the shore, at a depth of about 2.5 meters, just outside the Obama estate on Turkeyland Cove.
The identity of the other paddle boarder who witnessed the incident has not been revealed.
Martha’s Vineyard and Chappaquiddick Island are popular summer destinations for wealthy Americans and celebrities. In 2019, Obama purchased a seven-bedroom, 640-square-meter waterfront mansion overlooking Turkeyland Cove for nearly $12 million.
The news of Tafari Campbell’s tragic passing has left many shocked, as he was not only a talented chef but also a cherished member of the Obama family. As investigations continue, tributes pour in for Tafari, highlighting his dedication and contribution to the culinary world.
The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of water safety and the need for proper precautions, such as wearing a life jacket, while engaging in water activities. The Obama family’s heartfelt statement reflects the profound impact Tafari had on their lives and the sorrow they feel for his untimely death. As they mourn the loss of their sous chef, they join in the collective grief of those who knew and loved Tafari Campbell.