The death of the Obamas’ personal chef near the former president’s Martha’s Vineyard estate is reportedly not suspicious, according to Massachusetts State Police who found “no external trauma or injuries” on the 45-year-old man.
Tafari Campbell, of Virginia, died after paddleboarding on Edgartown Great Pond Sunday evening. His body was recovered Monday morning by Mass State Police divers — about 100 feet from shore at a depth of about eight feet.
Campbell was not wearing a personal flotation device and he was not leashed to the paddleboard when he lost balance and went underwater, a witness told police.
“The Massachusetts State Police investigation into the death of Tafari Campbell, 45, of Virginia, who was recovered from Edgartown Great Pond on Monday, as well as an initial post-mortem examination by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, found no evidence that the death was suspicious,” a Mass State Police spokesperson said in a statement.
“The on-scene observation of the victim by State Police personnel and the post-mortem examination by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner revealed no external trauma or injuries,” the police spokesperson added.
Another paddleboarder on the pond told police that Campbell was standing on his paddleboard, lost his balance and fell into the water — then struggled to stay afloat before going underwater.
The fellow paddleboarder tried to swim to Campbell’s location, but did not reach him in time. The other paddleboarder then swam to shore and told a person on shore that Campbell was underwater.
That person placed a 911 call to the Dukes County Regional Emergency Communications Center, which launched an immediate emergency search and rescue response by numerous public safety agencies.
“The police investigation and post-mortem examination is completed except for receipt of toxicology results, which is a standard procedure in all autopsies that generally takes several weeks to complete,” the State Police spokesperson said. “Barring any further significant developments, which are not expected at this time, the State Police will provide no further updates on Mr. Campbell’s tragic passing.”
Campbell was a sous chef at the White House when the Obamas first met him. Then when the former president’s second term ended, Campbell became the Obamas’ personal chef.
He leaves behind a wife and twin boys.
His wife Sherise posted on Instagram, “My heart is broken. My life and our family’s life is forever changed. Please pray for me and our families as I deal with the loss of my husband.”