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Obamas’ personal chef drowns near family’s home on Martha’s Vineyard

EDGARTOWN, Mass. (AP) — Former President Barack Obama’s personal chef has drowned near the family’s home on Martha’s Vineyard.

Massachusetts State Police confirmed that the paddleboarder whose body was recovered from Edgartown Great Pond on Monday was Tafari Campbell, 45, of Dumfries, Virginia.

Campbell was employed by the Obamas and was visiting Martha’s Vineyard. The Obamas were not present at the home at the time of the accident.

In a statement, the former president and his wife, Michelle Obama, called Campbell 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 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.”

The search for the missing paddleboarder started Sunday after reports from a fellow paddleboarder that he had struggled on the surface, went under and didn’t resurface.

The search was paused late Sunday but on Monday state police said sonar from a boat located the body about 100 feet (30 meters) from shore at a depth of about 8 feet (2.4 meters). Campbell was not wearing a life jacket, police said.

The Obamas said Campbell is survived by his wife and their twin boys.

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