The death of Tafari Campbell, former President Barack Obama’s personal chef at the White House who drowned after he went paddleboarding off of Martha’s Vineyard on July 23, was ruled to be accidental by the Chief Medical Examiner’s office, Massachusetts State Police told MassLive on Tuesday.
Campbell, 45, of Dumfries, Va., was identified by state police as the paddleboarder who was found dead. Campbell was visiting Martha’s Vineyard when he died, police said.
Divers located the 45-year-old man’s body about 100 feet from shore, and about 8 feet deep underwater, just before 10 a.m. on Monday, July 24, state police said.
State police said on Tuesday that the investigation has not yet been closed due to “some procedural processes yet to be completed,” but their findings line up with those of the Medical Examiner.
The former president and former First Lady Michelle Obama were not at their Martha’s Vineyard residence when the incident happened, police said. But the family issued a statement, according to several news outlets, including NBC10 in Boston.
“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,” the Obamas said.
“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.”
MassLive Reporter Irene Rotondo contributed to this story.