Newly released 911 calls by Secret Service agent reveal last moments of Obama chef’s drowning

Stephen Nartey October 25, 2023
Tafari Campbell/Photo credit: Instagram / @sweetsagellc

Newly released 911 calls feature the last moments of Obama’s chef, Tafari Campbell. A Secret Service agent visibly in a state of panic, reported that the Obama family’s chef had fallen off his paddleboard near the former president’s Martha’s Vineyard residence and was missing.

Campbell drowned at the rear of the property in an incident where he fell off his paddleboard into the Edgartown Great Pond. He remained submerged for a whole day.

Dave, the Secret Service agent, informed a dispatcher that their rescue swimmers were currently making efforts to reach the area in question, as reported by the New York Post. At 7:46 p.m., Dave contacted 911 and reported that rescue personnel, including a swimmer and another agent, were boarding a boat to reach Campbell, who had fallen into the water.

The rescuers were not present during the drowning incident but were informed by an unnamed individual who had rushed to their command with the distressing information. An individual rushed to their location, informing Dave that a male guest of the house was drowning. When a dispatcher asked Dave whether they needed an ambulance or water rescue assistance, Dave hesitated for a few seconds, mentioning his uncertainty about the situation at the back of the property.

Dave suggested at least an ambulance, but he indicated that he needed to call 911 again on a different line for further communication. He mentioned that information was not being shared over the radio at the moment.

The dispatcher provides Dave with a number and asks for a description of the missing man before ending the call. A few minutes later, Dave calls back, sounding more distressed, and informs the dispatcher that their rescue swimmers were unable to find the reported drowning individual. Despite their efforts in the water, they were unsure of the man’s whereabouts at that moment.

A different dispatcher inquires about a detailed description of what Campbell, the missing individual, had been wearing. Dave, calling from the Secret Service’s command post, is overheard coordinating with team members on the beach via radio before he provides a description of the personal chef.

Dave described Campbell as a man in his 40s, with a regular build, wearing all black, and on a paddleboard. The agent stated that their rescue swimmers were in the vicinity. Dave communicated with the team twice more to confirm that Campbell’s paddleboard was found but that he was not wearing a life jacket when the incident occurred.

Campbell’s body was discovered the day after the incident in 8 feet of water, approximately 100 feet from the edge of the Obama estate. The official cause of death, determined by the medical examiner, was an accidental drowning, with submersion in a body of water identified as the cause.

Since the July accident, information has been limited, and the Massachusetts State Police has requested the redaction of witnesses’ and USSS agents’ identities from public reports.

Campbell, originally from Dumfries, Virginia, had previously served as a sous chef at the White House, beginning during President George W. Bush’s tenure and continuing through the two terms of President Obama. The Obamas had later invited him to leave the White House and become their personal chef.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 25, 2023


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