Official cause of death released in tragic passing of fmr President Obama’s chef

The autopsy report of former President Barack Obama’s personal chef remained undisclosed as the announced results marked the tragedy as an accident.

After an overnight search, the body of 45-year-old Tafari Campbell, husband, father, and former White House sous chef, had been found drowned in Martha’s Vineyard’s Edgartown Great Pond. Tuesday, more than four weeks after the death had been reported from near the Obamas’ multimillion-dollar estate, authorities offered limited details when confirming the manner of the incident.

According to a release from Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security spokesperson Timothy McGuirk, the drowning death of the personal chef of the former first family had been ruled an accident.

As the Boston Globe had reported, “Campbell was standing on his paddleboard when he lost his balance and fell off. He struggled to remain afloat before slipping beneath the water. Campbell was not wearing a life jacket and wasn’t secured to his board. Campbell’s body was found in about eight feet of water.”

Additionally, the Boston Herald noted, “In the immediate aftermath of Campbell’s death, Massachusetts State Police said the initial investigation showed that there was no evidence that the death was suspicious. Police did not find any external trauma or injuries.”

In the days following the initial report of the decedent’s accident, scant details fueled questions about the mysterious circumstances that would cause a documented-capable swimmer to succumb under seemingly ordinary conditions.

The connection to the Obamas, mixed reporting on the family’s whereabouts, and lack of details on the unidentified female staffer who was said to have been with Campbell at the time of the tragedy only added to the public intrigue.

Rather than abate those suspicions, the withholding of the autopsy details was sure to add to concerns over an alleged coverup. Further fueling that likelihood was the response given to the Herald from a spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner who said of the toxicology report, “Toxicology is not a public record in Massachusetts, so we would not make it available.”

Not long after the public had been made aware that the victim had been identified as Campbell, the Obamas released a statement on the death of their employee that read, “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. 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,” they added, “and our hearts are broken that he’s gone.”

Social media speculation surrounding the death remained following the report.


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Kevin Haggerty


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