The Obama family’s “beloved” personal chef, Tafari Campbell, died of accidental drowning while paddleboarding in a Martha’s Vineyard lake, an autopsy confirmed Tuesday.
Campbell’s cause of death has officially been ruled to be “submersion in a body of water” — and his manner of death has been determined to be an accident, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Massachusetts.
The results of Campbell’s autopsy have not been made public as per state policy, Timothy McGuirk, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, told the Washington Post.
Campbell, 45, a former member of the White House kitchen staff, had been paddleboarding on Edgartown Great Pond off Martha’s Vineyard, where the Obamas own a summer estate, on July 23 when he lost his footing, went underwater and never resurfaced.
According to an eyewitness, Campbell was not wearing a life vest and was not tethered to his paddleboard. Efforts to rescue him in time were unsuccessful.
Campbell had travelled to Martha’s Vineyard to visit family. Barack and Michelle Obama were not home at the time of his drowning.
The initial investigation by the State Police found no evidence that Campbell’s death was suspicious, with no signs of trauma observed on his body, reported the Boston Herald.
“That’s why, when we were getting ready to leave the White House, we asked Tafari to stay with us, and he generously agreed,” the tribute went on. “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.”
In later comments posted on their individual Instagram accounts, Barack and Michelle hailed Campbell as a “friend” blessed with “immense gifts”.
Campbell, from Dumfries, Virginia, had previously worked as a sous chef at the White House, beginning under President George W. Bush and staying through Obama’s two terms. He was later hired as the Obama family’s personal chef.
This article was originally published by the New York Post and reproduced with permission