Man Overboard (book)
Published in English
|Pages||182 pp (Hardcover 1st ed)|
Man Overboard: The Counterfeit Resurrection of Phil Champagne is a non-fiction biography and true crime book by author Burl Barer that was released in 1995 by Northwest Publishing. It is the story of Champagne's life after his faked death.
Champagne, a construction developer, disappeared in 1982 while aboard a 45-foot yacht that was sailing off the Olympic Peninsula. He was presumed dead after a 13-hour search by the U.S. Coast Guard.
A $1.5 million life-insurance business policy, taken out by his brother as co-partner in a construction firm with Champagne, paid out $700,000 to his grieving family.
After the accident when Champagne realized everyone thought he had drowned, he stole the identity of Harold Stegeman, an 8-year-old boy who died in 1945. Champagne lived as Stegeman, a Washington restaurateur, for the next 10 years until his arrest for counterfeiting US currency in an Idaho garage. Champagne pleaded guilty to giving false statements during a bankruptcy hearing, a loan application and passport application. In addition, he served 21 months in federal prison for charges of counterfeiting and passport fraud.
Barer, an Edgar Award winner, profiles Champagne in Man Overboard. The first page of the book includes a synopsis of how the new identity began:
"Phil Champagne died Aug. 31, 1982, in a tragic boating accident off Lopez Island, Washington. He was 52. Champagne was survived by his wife of 28 years, four grown children, an octogenarian mother and two despondent brothers. Phil didn’t know he was dead until he read it in the paper. All things considered, he took it pretty well."
Awards and citations
Man Overboard is included in the book The Essential Mystery Lists under "Best True Crime."
- The Spokesman-Review, "Man who faked own death admits printing counterfeit bills," May 2, 1992 - Google News Archive Search
- The Spokesman-Review, "Champagne Book Takes Look At Life After Fake Death," July 23, 1995
- The Associated Press - "Man once believed dead enters two guilty pleas" - June 3, 1993
- Anthony Awards
- Bouchercon World Mystery Convention: Anthony Award Nominees and Winners Archived 2012-02-07 at the Wayback Machine.
- Sobin, Roger: The Essential Mystery Lists, pg. 57. Poisoned Pen Press. December 2007.