Man Overboard (book)

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Man Overboard
Man Overboard book cover.jpg
Author Burl Barer
Language English
Genre Crime, Biography
Publisher Northwest Publishing
Publication date
May 1995
Published in English
May 1995
Pages 182 pp (Hardcover 1st ed)
ISBN 978-1434305602

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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[1] 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.[2] In addition, he served 21 months in federal prison for charges of counterfeiting and passport fraud.[3]

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."[2]

Awards and citations[edit]

In 1996, Man Overboard was a nominee for an Anthony Award in the Best Crime & Mystery Books[4] of 1995 in the true crime category at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention.[5]

Man Overboard is included in the book The Essential Mystery Lists under "Best True Crime."[6]


External links[edit]