A member of Barack Obama’s female staff had been with chef Tafari Campbell when she tragically drowned while rowing in a pond next to the former president’s property on Martha’s Vineyard, DailyMail.com has learned.
The woman, who was on a separate paddle board, tried in vain to reach Campbell after she fell, but was eventually forced to return to shore to call for help.
It was a Secret Service agent who later called emergency services from Obama’s Edgartown compound to report the incident, sources told DailyMail.com.
On the ground, the witness spoke to investigators and was lucid and clear, showing no signs of intoxication, according to inside sources.
Tafari Campbell, pictured with his wife Sherise, had been rowing with an Obama staffer when he fell and drowned in Edgartown’s Great Pond on July 23.
Michelle and Barack Obama played sports on Friday, five days after the tragedy. Michelle played tennis with a friend while the former president used bandages on her fingers to improve her grip on golf
Great Edgartown Pond. Campbell’s body was found last Monday morning, 15 hours after he fell into the water.
Yet more than a week after the drowning on Sunday, July 23, authorities continue to release only a few details of the incident, while withholding the names of virtually everyone involved.
The initial call came at 7:46 p.m., as police and fire agencies responded to a report that Campbell, 45, an Obama employee living in Virginia, had fallen off his stand-up paddleboard, briefly struggled to stay afloat and then sank. .
Videos posted to Campbell’s social media show he was a competent swimmer
State police reported that there was another rower in the pond with Campbell who saw him drown.
Sources tell DailyMail.com the witness spoke to police at the scene, describing her as devastated but also apparently lucid and sober.
The multi-agency search continued overnight, with fire companies from across the island descending on Edgartown’s Great Pond with boats and divers, along with Massachusetts State Police, the Dukes County Sheriff’s Department, and the Coast Guard.
The witness directed rescuers to an area where Campbell was thought to have sunk.
Teams diligently searched the location that night but found no bodies. Authorities also searched property around the pond, hoping that Campbell had washed up on shore.
Campbell was located around 10 the next morning by Massachusetts Environmental Police officers who deployed side-scan sonar from a boat.
Recovery participants described the grim scene as divers lifted the body into a fire boat, placed it in a bag and covered it with a tarp.
Campbell was taken to Wilson’s Landing, the public launch that served as the command post, where a Secret Service agent identified the body of the missing chef.
Emergency services responded to the scene on Martha’s Vineyard on July 23 after a witness returned to shore and called for help.
Campbell’s lifeless body was taken to Wilson’s Landing, the public launch that served as the command post, where a Secret Service agent identified the body as the missing chef, the sources said.
At the time of the drowning, Barack and Michelle Obama were outside the house.
It is not clear if Obama’s daughters, Sasha, 25, and Malia, 22, who were also on the island, were at home or with friends or their parents.
Several search participants said they did not see the Obamas on the scene when the body was recovered, but they did notice several Secret Service agents who were described as communicative and helpful.
The authorities have maintained strict control over the disclosure of information.
Martha’s Vineyard police even left the reason for the emergency call blank in official records from the night of the accident. The reason for every other call that night is given.
Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee told DailyMail.com that the call log is generated by the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office, which has not responded to requests for information.
He could only speculate why the reason for the call was left blank, saying it may be because the caller from the Obama property did not dial 911, which automatically generates location data, and instead made a direct call. to a commercial line.
Campbell first joined the White House chef staff under the George W. Bush administration.
Family members said that she has always had an interest in cooking and often made something when her large family came to visit.
Malia and Sasha Obama, who were also in town at the time of Campbell’s death, were seen leaving Martha’s Vineyard last Tuesday, a day after the chef’s body was recovered.
He also said that the address was listed as Wilson’s Landing because that was the public launch used as the command post. At the time the call was received, authorities did not know where the drowning occurred, so they used the staging site for the incident scene, the chief said.
The drowning has been determined to be a tragic accident. There were no signs of foul play. Toxicology tests are pending.
The water was only eight feet deep where Campbell was found. The police said that he was not wearing a life preserver and that he was not tied to his board.
However, he did know how to swim, as evidenced by a video he posted on social media of himself swimming.
The lack of public information has led to widespread speculation and allowed conspiracy theories to run wild.
Sasha and Malia Obama flew from the island on Tuesday, while the former president and first lady, who were spending the summer at their $12 million estate, resumed some of their normal activities.
On Friday, Michelle Obama spent the morning playing tennis at the local Farm Neck Country Club, while her husband golfed at the members-only Vineyard Golf Club.
The former president wore bandages on the fingers of his left hand, but these are believed to improve his grip rather than a sign of injury.