01:07 - Source: KOAT
Ex-White House chef's cause of death revealed

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Former White House chef Walter Scheib died by drowning, according to an autopsy

He had been reported missing after hiking in the mountains near Taos, New Mexico

CNN —  

A former White House executive chef found dead in the mountains of New Mexico drowned, according to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

An autopsy determined the nature of Walter Scheib’s death was accidental, a department statement said.

Scheib, who served under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, has been absent since June 13 when he left to go for a hike alone on a mountain trail in Taos, New Mexico. He was later reported missing by a family member.

On Thursday, investigators tracked Scheib’s cell phone signal to a mountain in Taos, according to a press release from the New Mexico State Department of Public Safety.

His body was found submerged “in a mountain drainage flowing with surface runoff” about 25 yards off the Yerba Canyon hiking trail, hidden from view by vegetation and a steep decline off the trail, the statement said. There was no indication of foul play.

Scheib had recently moved to the area, according to Sergeant Elizabeth Armijo, a New Mexico State Police public information officer.

Scheib’s car was discovered by investigators Tuesday in a parking lot at the Yerba Canyon Trailhead.

His body was discovered off the immediate trail approximately 1.7 miles from the base of a hiking trail.

Scheib served as White House executive chef from 1994 to 2005. Scheib was personally hired by then-first lady Hillary Clinton, according to Scheib’s official website.

“Hillary and I are saddened by the tragic passing of former White House executive chef Walter Scheib,” the Clintons said in a statement Monday.

“Our family was grateful to have Walter with us in the White House for six years, where we and visitors from around the world loved his delicious and creative meals,” the statement said. “Walter used his immense talents not only to represent the very best of American cuisine to visiting leaders, but to make a difference in people’s lives across the country through his support of numerous charities. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and many friends.

On Monday, former first Lady Laura Bush issued a statement expressing sympathy for Scheib’s loved ones.

“Walter was an outstanding talent. He prepared magnificent dinners for world leaders and delicious family fare for our family and friends,” Bush said.

CNN’s Christine Sever and Dan Merica contributed to this report