The lifeless body of Tafari Campbell, renowned for being one of the chefs responsible for brewing White House honey ale beer during Barack Obama’s presidency, was discovered on Monday in the waters near the Martha’s Vineyard estate owned by the former President and former first lady Michelle Obama, as confirmed by Massachusetts police.
Tragically, Tafari Campbell met with an accident while visiting Martha’s Vineyard, where he was reported missing while paddleboarding in the waters. The Massachusetts State Police initiated a search operation near the Obama residence upon receiving this disturbing news.
The search operation began at 7:46 p.m. on Sunday after receiving a distress call from Martha’s Vineyard police and fire agencies. The call reported a male paddle boarder in distress who briefly struggled to stay afloat before submerging and failing to resurface. Another paddle boarder was present and witnessed the incident.
The body of Campbell was recovered from the Edgartown Great Pond by Massachusetts State Police divers, shortly after 10 a.m. The divers successfully located Campbell’s body by employing side-scan sonar from a boat, with assistance from Massachusetts Environmental Police Officers.
Police indicated that Campbell’s body was found approximately 100 feet from the shore at a depth of around eight feet.
The investigation into this tragic incident is being conducted by the State Police Detective Unit for the Cape and Islands District and Edgartown Police. Numerous agencies collaborated in the search and recovery efforts. The state police mentioned that involved agencies included Edgartown Fire and all other island fire departments, local police, State Police patrols, Air Wing, and detectives, the Dukes County Sheriff’s Department, and the Coast Guard.
According to new dispatch calls, Campbell was not wearing a life preserver. It is unknown who made the 9-11 call. There was a second paddleboarder in the vicinity and it is unknown if there are any signs of foul play.
Campbell, aged 45, had previously worked as a sous chef in the White House during Obama’s tenure, displaying his culinary talents and passion for food, particularly in utilizing honey from Michelle Obama’s well-known South Lawn garden. Following their time in the White House, the Obamas were fond of Campbell’s skills and sought him to be their personal chef, an offer he generously accepted. Over the years, he became an integral part of the Obamas’ lives, earning their love and respect for his warm, kind, and fun personality that brightened their days.
In their time of grief, the Obamas released a heartfelt statement expressing their deep sorrow at the loss of a cherished member of their family. They offered their condolences to Campbell’s wife, Sherise, and their twin boys, Xavier and Savin, who now have to endure this profound loss.
“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,” the Obamas said. “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 investigation into this tragic fatality is being conducted by the State Police Detective Unit for the Cape and Islands District and Edgartown Police. Although Campbell’s passing is a devastating blow to those who knew and loved him, his legacy as an exceptionally talented and kind-hearted individual will be fondly remembered by all.