(MARTHA’S VINEYARD, Mass.) — The body of a missing paddleboarder recovered from a pond in Martha’s Vineyard on Monday morning was an employee of former President Barack Obama, the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) said.
Divers for the MSP Underwater Recovery Unit retrieved the body of 45-year-old Tafari Campbell at Edgartown Great Pond.
“Tafari was 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,” President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama said in a statement. “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 asked Campbell to continue working with them after they left the White House and he “generously agreed,” they said in a statement.
“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.”
Campbell was visiting Martha’s Vineyard at the time of his death, police said. The Obamas were not at the home when the incident occurred, according to MSP.
The victim’s body was located by Massachusetts Environmental Police Officers, according to MSP.
The underwater recovery unit retrieved the victim’s body about 100 feet from the shore and 8 feet underwater, according to state police.
The paddleboarder went missing in the pond on Sunday, but authorities suspended the search after several hours to “allow dive teams, flight crews, and other responders to re-equip and assess next steps” after they could not find the man, MSP said.
The Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit is investigating the incident for the Cape and Islands District and Edgartown Police.
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