(CNN) — The drowning death of a former White House chef who was working for the Obama family has been ruled an accident, a spokesperson with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security said.
Tafari Campbell, 45, was found dead last month in Edgartown Great Pond on the south shore of Martha’s Vineyard, state police said.
He had been paddleboarding the night before and was reported missing after he went into the water and didn’t resurface, a news release from Massachusetts State Police said at the time.
He went “into the water, appeared to briefly struggle to stay on the surface, and then submerged and did not resurface,” police said. Another paddleboarder on the pond with him witnessed him go under the water, according to the release.
Campbell “was employed by former President Obama and was visiting Martha’s Vineyard at the time of his passing,” state police said.
The Obamas were not at their Martha’s Vineyard residence at the time of the incident, according to police.
“Tafari was a beloved part of our family,” Barack and Michelle Obama said in a joint statement after his death.
“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,” the statement continued. “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.”
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