Barack Obama

Cause of death released for Tafari Campbell, longtime chef of Obamas

Campbell had been out paddleboarding on Martha's Vineyard on July 22 when he went under the water and wasn't seen coming back up

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The cause and manner of death has been released for 45-year-old Tafari Campbell, the longtime chef for President Barack Obama and his family.

Campbell's body was recovered from Edgartown Great Pond, along the southern coast of Martha's Vineyard, on the morning of July 23. He had been out paddleboarding the night before when he went under the water and wasn't seen coming back up.



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State police Underwater Recovery Water Unit divers recovered the body after it was located by Massachusetts Environmental Police using side-scan sonar from a boat. The recovery was made about 100 feet from shore at a depth of about eight feet.

Timothy McGuirk, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, said Tuesday that the cause of death has officially been ruled a drowning and the manner of death has been determined to be an accident.

State police said Campbell was employed by the former president and was visiting the family at the time of his death. The Obamas were not home, police said, but the couple released a statement following his death describing Campbell as a member of the family:

“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. 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 is survived by his wife, Sherise, and their twin boys, Xavier and Savin.

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