New Details in Drowning of Obama’s Chef Leave Unanswered Questions

(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Barack Obama’s private chef, Tafari Campbell, vanished on Sunday evening while paddleboarding in Edgartown Great Pond. He turned up drowned Monday morning in a pond off the former president’s Martha’s Vineyard estate.


No foul play was suspected, and Campbell was reportedly not wearing a lifejacket. However, there are some peculiarities surrounding the incident and the aftermath.

According to a report from the UK Daily Mail, “Martha’s Vineyard police left the reason for the 911 call reporting Obama private chef Tafari Campbell’s drowning blank in official logs from the night of the accident.” And while Campbell wasn’t alone when he fell into the water, “police refuse to name the person he was with.”

At 7.46pm, a 911 call was made to report that he had fallen in and could not make it back to the surface.

That call is noted in Edgartown Police Department’s logs, but the reason behind it is left noticeably blank. The reason for every other call for that night is given.

The origin of the call is also listed as Wilson’s Landing – a paddle board launch site, some two miles from the Obamas’ house on Turkeyland Cove, where Massachusetts State Police say the first call came from.

Edgartown police chief Bruce McNamee told that the call log is generated by the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office.

He could only speculate on why the reason for the call is left blank, saying it may be because the caller from Obama’s property didn’t dial 911, which automatically generates location data, and instead made a direct call to a business line.

He also said the address was listed as Wilson’s Landing because that was the public launch used as the command post.


Barack and Michelle Obama “were out of the house” at the time of the incident. It is unclear if their daughters, Sasha and Malia, were at home, out with friends, or with their parents when the drowning occurred, though the Obama daughters were seen leaving Martha’s Vineyard the following day.

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They also confirm that the original 911 call to report what had happened came from a female who, by 8.18pm, was out on the water on a boat going ‘back and forth’ – presumably looking for him.

‘We met with the reporting party, she is on a boat with two individuals and they’re going back and forth as well,’ said one of the rescuers at 8.23pm.

The person who made the call has yet to be identified, and it is not clear if they were the person Campbell had been paddle boarding with.



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