A paddleboarder who drowned near the Martha’s Vineyard estate of former President Barack Obama was identified as being a personal chef for the Obama family.
Massachusetts State Police (MSP) discovered the body of the missing paddleboarder on Monday, who was later identified as 45-year-old Tafari Campbell, according to a statement from the MSP.
“Mr. Campbell was employed by former President Obama and was visiting Martha’s Vineyard at the time of his passing,” the MSP said in the statement noting that the Obama family had not been at the estate during the incident.
Campbell had been paddleboarding at Edgartown Great Pond at Martha’s Vineyard when he reportedly went into the water and “appeared to briefly struggle to stay on the surface,” according to a statement from the MSP.
He then “submerged” and “did not resurface,” according to the MSP.
The Obamas issued a joint statement, expressing Campbell had been a “beloved part” of their family, according to Fox News.
“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 in their statement.
The Obamas explained as they were preparing to depart from the White House, they “asked Tafari to stay” with them, adding he had “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.”
Another paddleboarder who had been on the pond with Campbell at the time observed him “go under the water,” according to the MSP.
Divers from the MSP retrieved Campbell’s body from a depth of “approximately 100 feet from the shore” and at a depth of eight feet” after Massachusetts Environmental Police Officers had used a side-scan sonar from a boat, according to the MSP.