Obamas’ Chef Tafari Campbell Dies In Paddleboarding Accident

A personal chef to former US president Barack Obama has died during an accident on a paddle boarding trip near the Obamas’ Massachusetts home. Tafari Campbell, 45, worked in the White House before staying on with the Obama family after Mr Obama left office in 2016.

On Sunday, he went missing in the waters of Edgartown Great Pond on Martha’s Vineyard.

The Obamas released a statement hailing his talent inside the kitchen and out.

“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,” Mr Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama said on Monday.

“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.”

Mr Campbell had been visiting the Massachusetts island from his home in Virginia at the time of his death. Police say the Obama family was not home at the time of the accident.

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.

On Monday, his body was found “approximately 100 feet (30 meters) from shore at a depth of about eight feet”.

The Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit is investigating his death, but it is believed to have been an accident, CBS News reported.

His wife, Sherise Campbell, posted a tribute to her husband on Instagram.

“My heart is broken,” Ms Campbell said. “My life and our family’s life is forever changed. Please pray for me and our families as I deal with the loss of my husband.”

Mr Campbell had worked in the White House during Mr 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.

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.”

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