The personal chef of former president Barack Obama was found dead in a “paddleboarding accident” near the family’s $12 million mansion on Martha’s Vineyard (which is situated at sea level, a paradox for fervent believers in the melting iceberg theory).
Massachusetts State Police confirmed that the paddleboarder whose body was recovered from Edgartown Great Pond on Monday was Tafari Campbell, 45, of Dumfries, Virginia.
According to the AP, Campbell was employed by the Obamas and was visiting Martha’s Vineyard. The Obamas were not present at the home at the time of the accident. In a statement, the former president and his wife, Michelle Obama, called Campbell 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 couple 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.”
Campbell had worked in the White House during Obama’s eight years in Washington. During that time he helped create some of the most famous presidential recipes, included a beer brewed from ingredients grown at the White House.
On Sunday, Campbell went missing in the waters of Edgartown Great Pond on Martha’s Vineyard. When it was time for the first family to depart Washington, they asked Mr Campbell to join them and he “generously agreed” the Obamas’ statement added.
“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.”
The search was launched on Sunday night for “a male paddleboarder who had gone into the water, appeared to briefly struggle to stay on the surface, and then submerged and did not resurface,” according to a police report.
“Another paddleboarder was on the pond with him at the time and observed him go under the water,” it added; it wasn’t clear why the other paddleboarder did not intervene and rescue Obama’s cook.
On Monday, his body was found “approximately 100 feet (30 meters) from shore at a depth of about eight feet”.
It remains unclear how a healthy 45-year old male, who is reportedly a good swimmer, can drown in what is literally an 8 feet deep pond.
The Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit is investigating his death, but it is believed to have been an accident, CBS News reported.
The Obamas said Campbell is survived by his wife and their twin boys.