Former US President Obama’s family say they are heartbroken over death of ‘warm, fun, extraordinarily kind’ chef Tafari Campbell.

Former United States President Barack Obama’s personal chef has been found dead in a lake near the Obamas’ family home, in the resort community of Martha’s Vineyard.

Massachusetts State Police confirmed on Monday that a paddle boarder who was seen getting into difficulty on the Edgartown Great Pond was the Obamas’ personal chef Tafari Campbell.

Campbell, 45, worked at the White House before continuing to work for the Obama family after the 44th president left office in 2016.

“Tafari was a beloved part of our family,” the Obamas said in a joint statement. “He was … 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, and our hearts are broken that he’s gone.”

Tafari Campbell worked in the White House and as the personal chef to the Obamas [File: Ron Edmonds/AP]

Campbell leaves behind his wife, Sherise, and twin sons, the Obamas said.

Authorities began searching for a missing person on Sunday after a report that a paddle boarder had gone underwater and not resurfaced.

State police said they located Campell, who was not wearing a life jacket, about 30 metres from shore and 2.4 metres underwater using sonar.

Campell, who lived in Dumfries, Virginia, had been visiting Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy island community off the coast of Massachusetts, but the Obamas were not present at the time of the incident, police said.

Campell’s death is being investigated by authorities, police said.


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