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Obama Pays Tribute to Personal Chef After Fatal Paddleboarding Accident

Tafari Campbell
Tafari Campbell from a 2012 video uploaded by the Obama White House. WH.GOV

*We reported earlier that Barack Obama’s personal chef, Tafari Campbell, was found deceased in water 100 feet from the shore in Edgartown Great Pond “about eight feet deep by the Massachusetts Environmental Police,” reports the New York Times.

Campbell, 45, a former White House sous chef, died on Monday in a paddle boarding accident near the Obamas’ Katama estate in Martha’s Vineyard, People reports. 

“MSP Underwater Recovery Unit divers made the recovery after the victim’s body was located by Massachusetts Environmental Police Officers deploying side-scan sonar from a boat,” Massachusetts State Police said in a news release.

In a follow-up statement, MSP said, “Mr. Campbell was visiting Martha’s Vineyard at the time of his passing. President and Mrs. Obama were not present at the residence at the time of the accident.”

As People reports, on Sunday, Martha’s Vineyard police and fire agencies responded to a 911 call for “a male paddle boarder who had gone into the water, appeared to briefly struggle to stay on the surface, and then submerged and did not resurface.”

On social media, the commentary is wild with speculation that foul play is involved in Campbell‘s death.

As People reports, the Obamas shared a tribute to Campbell amid news of his passing.

“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 a joint statement. “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.”

The statement continued, “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.”

“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,” they added.

READ MORE: Rock Star Lashes Out After Obama Includes Band On Summer Playlist

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