Death of Obama’s Martha’s Vineyard Chef Ruled ‘Accident’

Originally published August 23, 2023 1:59 pm PDT

The death of former President Barack Obama’s personal chef on a lake near Martha’s Vineyard has been deemed an accident, according to a new autopsy.

  • A new autopsy says the death of Obama’s personal chef while paddleboarding near Martha’s Vineyard was an “accident.”
  • Tafari Campbell, 45, disappeared on July 23 while paddleboarding in the waters of Edgartown Great Pond on Martha’s Vineyard.
  • According to Timothy McGuirk, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Campbell’s cause of death was determined to be an “accidental drowning due to submersion in a body of water.”

“Paddle boarder who can swim ‘accidentally’ drowns on lake with calm water and a witness. So he was either on something or this wasn’t an accident,” one Twitter user said.

  • Campbell was reportedly found to have drowned near the family’s ritzy estate on Martha’s Vineyard earlier last month.
  • The chef had allegedly been visiting the home although none of the Obama’s were present at the time of his death.
  • While initial reports claimed Campbell drowned while paddleboarding, an unverified report claimed rescue personnel Campbell had “blunt force injuries” to his head.
  • “His face was all messed up like he was in a brawl with someone,” a member of the Edgartown fire department said, according to the report.
  • 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.”
  • In a statement, the Obamas claimed to first have met the chef while at the White House, but “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.”
  • In 2017, a photo posted on his Instagram showed Campbell with his wife in Aruba, with hashtags such as #wemadesomeprogress and #stillcantswim, suggesting that he was not a skilled swimmer at the time.
  • However, video has surfaced of the man taking swimming lessons at Onelife Fitness in Woodbridge, Virginia in 2019, further leading to suspicions on his actual cause of death.