Tafari Campbell, the personal chef to former U.S. President Barack Obama’s family, was found in an apparent drowning in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, near the family’s home. He was 45 years old, and was found dead in the Edgartown Great Pond. The Obama family was not at their residence at the time of the incident. According to ABC News, Campbell was eight feet deep into the pond, and had been paddle boarding.
The former president issued a statement regarding the tragedy, saying “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.” The chef followed the Obama family after the president’s two terms.
BREAKING: Barack Obama's personal chef, Tafari Campbell, found dead after drowning near the former president's Martha's Vineyard home 🙏😔 pic.twitter.com/qPsI1cc51N
— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) July 24, 2023
It is unknown at this time why the chef was visiting the island.
Twitter users sent condolences to Campbell’s family, and acknowledged the late chef’s achievements in the culinary world.
This is sad news. 😔 He was a husband and father to twins, and their grief is unimaginable. May The Most High surround them all with His peace and grace in the days ahead‼️🙌🏾🙏🏿✨️
— Jeannette Blackwell (@BlackwellJeann1) July 24, 2023
Very sad. Too have achieved such success at a young age.
— AmericaRocks (@AmericaRocks13) July 24, 2023
Oh no!! His poor family! It's hard to lose someone no matter the circumstances. This is gonna get spun seventy different ways by Friday.
— Jessica (@Jasonsgal777) July 24, 2023
The circumstances of the drowning are still being investigated by local authorities. Some fear that racially motivated violence could have been at play, as Campbell was Black and worked for the first ever Black first family.
This is very suspicious
Especially because it’s a black man, we black people are not safe
May his kind beautiful soul rest in perfect peace
— Lady 💗 (@ladyonchain) July 24, 2023
As is common in high profile deaths, conspiracies have already begun to emerge. In a previous Instagram post, the late Campbell appeared to confirm that he did not know how to swim, making it peculiar for him to be paddle boarding alone in the vast Edgartown Great Pond.
View this post on Instagram
The Great Pond is one of few of its kind in Massachusetts, and contains brackish water, meaning a combination of salt water and fresh water. Aside from general foul play theories, conservative media personalities are accusing the Obama family of foul play, alleging that the late chef “knew something he should not have.”
— Trey (@nobodyssaint) July 24, 2023
"I JuST knOW da ObUmAs hAd Eem KEeLeD.. Dur nEEds tO BE uh InVEstiGAshuN!!" pic.twitter.com/5IlOtBu8Z7
— brother rock. (@JayDubya_) July 24, 2023
Always seems like someone “drowns” when they’re closely associated with important people
— choc (@choc) July 24, 2023
Campbell is survived by his wife Sherise Campbell, and their twin sons, Xavier and Savin. While the cause of death has been deemed a drowning at this time, it remains unclear whether foul play was actually involved.