The Obamas personal chef Tafari Campbell was found dead in Marthas Vineyard

Tafari Campbell was a White House sous chef during the Obama administration. Following that turn, he became private chef to Barack and Michelle Obama at their Martha’s Vineyard estate. His Instagram is full of all of the beautiful food he created for the Obamas and as a private event chef. This past weekend, Tafari apparently went paddle-boarding at the beach and he was seen “going underwater” and never resurfacing. Police were called immediately on Sunday and they found Tafari Campbell’s body. This story is so sad.

Former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama are mourning the loss of a “beloved” member of their staff, calling him “a truly wonderful man.” Tafari Campbell — a former White House sous chef who later became the Obamas’ personal chef — died on Monday in a paddle boarding accident near the Obamas’ Katama estate in Martha’s Vineyard. He was 45.

Massachusetts State Police, who confirmed Campbell’s death to PEOPLE, said in a news release that Campbell, who was from Dumfries, Virginia, was recovered by divers from a pond on Edgartown Great Road shortly before 10 a.m. ET.

“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,” the department said in the release, noting the recovery was made “approximately 100 feet from shore at a depth of about eight feet.”

MSP later told PEOPLE in a statement, “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.”

The search started at 7:46 p.m. ET on Sunday when 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.”

The Obamas shared a touching tribute to Campbell following his death, calling Tafari “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,” the couple said in a joint statement sent to PEOPLE. “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. 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.

The ongoing investigation into Campbell’s death is being conducted by the State Police Detective Unit for the Cape and Islands District and Edgartown Police.

[From People]

Again, this is just so sad – it’s a horrible accident, but the police have every right to investigate what happened. I suspect it was something to do with the water current but what do I know. What I can’t stand is that people (wingnuts) are already calling this the “Obama Body Count.” Like… Obama had zero scandals in the White House, and his post-presidency has been devoted to writing, golfing and spending time with his family. There is no scandal here, just tragedy.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid, and Instagram.

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