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Obamas' "beloved" chef found dead in Martha's Vineyard lake after going missing while paddleboarding

Obamas' chef dies in Martha's Vineyard
Obamas' chef found dead in Martha's Vineyard lake after going missing while paddleboarding 01:25

A missing paddleboarder whose body was recovered from a Martha's Vineyard lake Monday has been identified as a "beloved" employee of former President Barack Obama and his family. 

Tafari Campbell, 45, worked in the White House and the Obamas considered him part of their family, the former president and first lady said in a joint statement. When the Obamas were getting ready to leave the White House, they asked him to keep working for them. 

"He's been part of our lives ever since, and our hearts are broken that he's gone," the Obamas said. 

The Obamas have a residence on Martha's Vineyard, but they were not at the home at the time of Campbell's death, Massachusetts State Police said. Campbell was visiting the area at the time of the incident.

Chef Tafari Campbell in the White House kitchen in 2012
Tafari Campbell is seen in a 2012 video posted by the Obama White House.

Campbell, who was from Dumfries, Virginia, was seen struggling in the water of Edgartown Great Pond Sunday night before he went under, CBS Boston reported.

Searchers spent hours looking for Campbell on Sunday night, police said. The searchers included divers and flight and boat crews. His body was recovered on Monday morning from Edgartown Great Pond. The recovery was made approximately 100 feet from shore at a depth of about eight feet.

Campbell is survived by a wife and twin boys, the Obamas said. 

"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 Obamas said in their joint 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."

Campbell's wife posted Tuesday on Instagram, saying, "My heart is broken."

"My life and our family's life is forever changed. Please pray for me and our families as I deal with the loss of my husband."

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