Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP

Photograph of a RCMP Motorcycle (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)



The achievements and contributions of the Force have been built upon the individual contributions of many past Veterans. These contributions have largely been forgotten.






Veteran #35982 Sgt. Larry Burden who served in “E” Division for 20 years has spent over ten years researching and summarizing these achievements by specific date. Nearly every day, Larry sends out an email message with a selection from his work in progress manuscript “This Day In The RCMP” to individuals interested in these historical notes.

In an effort to share his research to a large group, Larry has agreed to permit us to develop a webpage on our website. Each webpage will post Larry’s historical notations over the past week.

If you wish to contact Larry Burden or provide additional information about his research, please email him at

The following are Larry’s latest “This Day In The RCMP” listings.

July 31

1880 Great Britain hands over the jurisdiction of the Arctic to Canada.

1876 - Photograph of Louis Riel.

1876 – Photograph of Louis Riel.

1885 Louis Riel makes an eloquent address to the jury, saying he had been blessed by God with a mission to help the Indians, the Metis, and the whites of the North West. In his address to the jury he repudiated any suggestion of religious insanity and requests that he be judged solely on the political elements of his case. The jury found him guilty.

1983 A Commendation for Bravery awarded to #29981 Constable William Thordarson who observed that an apartment was on fire in North Vancouver BC. He called 911 and then entered the building and pulled the apartment fire alarm. He then forced his way into the burning apartment and searched the entire unit 3 times in an attempt to find any occupants, until he was finally driven out the building by the dense smoke and heat. His valiant search was to no avail, because unknown to him, the occupants had fled the building without pulling alarm.

1983 The St. John Ambulance Meritorious Certificate was awarded to Constables #34537 Dennis A. Flanagan and #37091 M.F. Pitt-Payne after they responded to a complaint that a two year old boy had fallen into a septic tank at Maple Creek BC. The constables were successful in reviving the child, but he died three days later in hospital.

1993 On this day #40141 Constable Bernadine Chapman responded to a complaint of a suicidal man who was threatening to jump from the Burton Bridge that spans the Saint John River at Burton NB. Constable Chapman and Firefighter David Gamble, climbed onto a narrow “catwalk” under the bridge. Although hampered by the noise from the wind and passing vehicles she calmly talked the man from his perch and prevented him from jumping into the river 300 feet below.

In October 2004 her outstanding courage and professionalism was recognized by, the Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement with their Medal of Valour. On September 11, 2005 Cst. Chapman was again honoured by The International Association of Women Police at a ceremony in Leeds, England where she received the associations Valour Award.

August 1

1874 – The March West column was regrouped and split. “A” Division comprised of 32 men commanded by Inspector W. D. Jarvis, set out for Fort Edmonton nearly nine hundred miles away from La Roche Percee (near Estevan Sask.) with 55 sick horses, 74 oxen and cattle, 57 ox carts, 26 wagons and more than 25,00 pounds of flour.

 1885 – Louis Riel is sentence to be hanged for treason by Judge Hugh Richardson after a jury of six English-speaking Protestants found catholic Riel guilty but recommended mercy. During the trial Riel gave two lengthy speeches where he demonstrated his powerful rhetorical abilities and fought attempts by his defense counsel to prove he was not guilty by reason of insanity.

Photograph of Commissioner Bowen Perry of the NWMP, RNWMP & RCMP (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of Commissioner Bowen Perry of the NWMP, RNWMP & RCMP (Source of photo – Ric

1900 – #O.44 Aylesworth Bowen Perry, C.M.G. becomes the fifth Commissioner of the Force and serves until March 31, 1923.

1931 #3588 / O.240 Sir James Howden MacBrien, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. becomes the seventh permanent Commissioner and serves until March 5, 1938 and becomes the first Commissioner to die in office.

1950 – The Newfoundland Rangers, Newfoundland Preventive Service and some members of Newfoundland Constabulary are absorbed into the RCMP when the RCMP enters into a contract with, Newfoundland and Labrador to provide policing to Canada’s newest Province.

1994 – #32642 Corporal Leonard V. Desautels earned a Commanding Officer’s Commendation for courage and presence of mind when he apprehended a suicidal man with loaded rifle at Far Reserve, near La Ronge, Saskatchewan.

1995 – A career officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Patrick M. Shaw, served in major crime investigation, drug investigation and criminal intelligence duties throughout most of his career. On retiring from the Force in 1988, he joined the Saskatchewan Government as Director of Protective Services, where he remained until his appointment as Sergeant-at-Arms on August 1, 1995.

August 2

1973 – Retired Sergeant Major #06316 Henry Webb Stallworthy O.C. is invested with the Order of Canada at Government House by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. His citation states “For his pioneer service in the Canadian Arctic as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and his contributions to the exploration of the remote northern regions.”

Harry Stallworthy as he was known throughout his life was one of the Canada’s greatest barely known northern explorers. His accomplishments in the north are legendary and include leading one the longest arctic dog sled patrols in RCMP history in search of a missing German geologist, Dr. Hans Kruger to establishing Canada’s sovereignty claim to Ellesmere Island. His biography entitled “Red Serge and Polar Bears” written by William Barr was published by The University of Alberta Press in 2004 is a worthy read for anyone who wants to know what life in the Mounted Police was like for a man who spent over twenty years in the real north.

1978 – #31001 Constable Jean F. Bourke of Grand Rapids, Manitoba found himself confronted by a highly intoxicated man armed with three weapons threatening to shoot him if he didn’t leave the scene. Bourke remained calm and after several minutes of talking to the gunman, he convinced him to drop his weapons and surrender. For his courage and sound judgment he was awarded the Commanding Officer’s Commendation.


1990 – While on patrol near Bow Island, Alberta, #30389 Constable Ross S. Gilmore found himself in a high-speed pursuit with an intoxicated suicidal man. When the chase ended the man produced a 22.caliber rifle and threatened to kill him. Constable Gilmore stayed calm and was able to disarm the gunman and take him into custody. As a result of his courage and quick thinking he was awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery.

August 3

1990 – While on patrol near Bow Island, Alberta, #30389 Constable Ross S. Gilmore found himself in a high-speed pursuit with an intoxicated suicidal man. When the chase ended the man produced a 22.caliber rifle and threatened to kill him. Constable Gilmore stayed calm and was able to disarm the gunman and take him into custody. As a result of his courage and quick thinking he was awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery.

1991 – When Constables #36174 Thomas G. Power and #36489 A.B.M. Campbell arrived at the scene of a house fire at Iqaluit, NWT, they were advised that a woman was still inside the burning building. Both men rushed into the building, but were driven back by the intense heat and smoke. They then made a second attempt and despite the smoke and heat, found the unconscious woman and carried her out of the blaze, where she was revived later at the Baffin Regional Hospital. As a result of their heroism both men were awarded the Commanding Officer’s Commendation.

August 4

1896 – #416 / O.83 Inspector Frank Harper along with Game Wardens Wilson and Ashley recovered the body of Philip Abbot, off of Mount Lefroy near Lake Louise in the first Mountaineering fatality in North America.

Philip Abbot was part of a group of the Appalachian Mountain Club members, who were attempting to be the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount LeRoy. Abbot a Harvard educated attorney, was considered to be one of the best mountaineers in the United States and had previously made history when he along with climbers, Charles S. Thompson, and Charles Fay, completed the first ascent of Mount’s Hector and Stephen in 1885.

On August 3, 1896 the trio were joined by George Little and they were only 600 meters from the summit, when Abbot un-roped so he could climb ahead of the group on his own. Shortly thereafter, he slipped and fell to his death.

The summit of Mount LeFroy is at 423m (11231ft.) and is located on the border of Banff & Yoho parks, on the Alberta/BC border. Charles S. Thompson, and Charles Fay conquered it the following year, along with seven other climbers.

1933The crew of the RCMP Cruiser “Chaleur” rescued the schooner “Glacier” which was in distress, and drifting ten miles off of the Wolves Island near Grand Manan NB. The schooner had been struck by lightening on July 31st, which had split her foresail and torn her mainsail beyond use. In addition the ship was leaking badly and the crew was exhausted from having to pump continuously since the incident. The Chaleur tied along side and she was towed to Saint John New Brunswick.

1958 – A murder investigation was initiated when the naked body of a young woman was found in a fruit picker’s shack near Kaleden, British Columbia. Soon, the prime suspect becomes a transient fruit picker, Donald George Stevens who is known under several aliases. The following day #14827 Corporal George Ralph Browne, from the nearby Summerland Detachment stopped a suspicious looking man on a rural road and when he proceeded to question him, the man pulled a gun and shot him three times and then ran off towards Giant Head Mountain. Fortunately Corporal Browne survived his wounds to the neck, hand and arm and a massive manhunt ensued and lead to the deaths of three police officers (See August 6th) before Stevens was eventually captured at Tonasket, Washington, after he was spotted crossing the American border. A joint US –Canadian Posse was organized and Stevens was arrested by #16889 Cst. Stewart Langdon when he found him hiding in bushes on the Okanagan River forty miles south of the border. When Langdon ordered him to come out of the bushes, Stevens attacked him with a rock and in the fight that ensued, the fugitive attempted to take the policemen’s gun. Langdon gained control of Stevens after he shot him in the buttocks. Stevens was returned to Canada to face criminal charges but the charges were dropped when it was proven that he had escaped from an American mental hospital and was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial. He was returned to the United States where he died in a mental institution in 1968.

George Ralph Browne, recovered from his gunshot wounds and eventually returned to duty. He retired as a Staff Sergeant in 1976. Stewart Langdon retired as a Staff Sergeant in 1980.

1960 – The House of Commons votes to approve the new Canadian Bill of Rights proposed by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s government. The new charter sets out rights and freedoms accorded all Canadians.

2001 – Two Mounties receive the Medal of Bravery

Constable Josephee Frederick Baines, M.B. and Constable Robert Glenn Wolfenden, M.B.

While working general duties in Iqaluit, Nunavut, #47141 Cst. Josephee Baines and #50434 Cst. Robert G. Wolfenden responded to a report of a fire at a residence where they found two intoxicated people screaming for help from a second floor window. Without hesitation, the two constables rushed inside the burning building but were forced out because of the blinding smoke and toxic fumes. The two men then wrapped several wet towels over their faces and went back into the inferno and fought their way through the smoke and flames, until they located the two heavily intoxicated victims in the living room. After convincing the uncooperative woman that her children were safe and not inside the burning house, the constables gave the two victims their wet towels and then escorted from the residence. All four individuals were then transported to hospital where they were treated for smoke inhalation.

On April 30, 2004 both policemen were awarded Canada’s third highest award for courage, the Medal of Bravery.

Photograph of the Canadian Medal of Bravery

Photograph of the Canadian Medal of Bravery similar to the medal awarded to Constables Joseph Baines and Robert Wolfenden.

August 5 

1934 – #9072 Sergeant J. D. O’Connell won the coveted “Prince of Wales Silver Cup” at the New Brunswick Rifle Association Meet in Sussex. The cup had been awarded to the best rifle shot in New Brunswick since 1861. Shooters were required to fire seven shots at the 600 yards, seven at 200 yards and ten shots at 900 yards.

Photograph of the grave marker for Corporal Albin R. Nelson (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).

1958 – #14064 Cpl. Albin R. Nelson of Blaine Lake Sask. saved the life of a four-year-old boy, Stephen Wawryk after he found the boy unconscious and not breathing. The child lost consciousness and stopped breathing after he consumed a quantity of “home brew” that he had found. Cpl. Nelson revived the boy after he performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and was later awarded the St John’s Ambulance Meritorious Certificate award.

1960 – Canada’s 9th Prime Minister (1920-21 and 1926), Senator Arthur Meighen dies in Toronto at the age of 86. He was the first Prime Minister born after Confederation.

1984 – #32202 Constable James Baker earned a Commanding Officers Commendation after he and three members of the public, E. Redekop, D. Redekop and W. Boulanger, rescued six people after they were thrown from their boat during a storm on Little Shuswap Lake, near Chase, BC .

1986 – Medal of Bravery – Arthur Ross Lewis MB

Upon arriving at the scene of a house fire in Big River, Saskatchewan, #28114 Constable Arthur Ross Lewis was advised by a neighbor that an elderly man was inside the burning shed. While the neighbor sprayed the shed with a garden hose, Constable Lewis wrapped a wet towel around his face and entered the building in an attempt to locate the victim. Shortly thereafter he was forced from the blaze by the intense heat and thick smoke. By then Ross and Chad Dunn had arrived on scene, and with Ross Dunn leading, he and Constable Dunn re-entered the building but again were forced to retreat. Joined by Chad Dunn the trio holding hands re-entered the blaze and found the severely burned unconscious man in a rear corner of the building.

Once they had removed the victim, Cst. Lewis applied mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and continued to do so while he and the victim were transported to hospital. Unfortunately 85-year-old Alonzo Gallant.

On June 10, 1988 Constable Arthur Ross Lewis was awarded the Medal of Bravery.

August 6

1958 – Honour Roll Numbers 97, 98, 99.

1946 – Photograph of Staff Sergeant Stanley Rothwell standing on the right (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).

Three members #10880 S/Sgt. Stanley Samuel Rothwell age 49, #14740 Cst. Richard William Green age 35 and #10410 S/Cst. Joseph Edouard Cormier age 39 were killed on duty in an airplane crash, along the East Shore of Skaha Lake, BC.

The Vancouver Air Section DeHavilland Beaver float plane CF-FHW piloted by Staff Sgt. Stanley Rothwell arrived in Penticton to assist in the manhunt for an American fugitive and murder suspect, who had shot Cpl. George Brown of the Summerland BC Detachment (see August 4). The pilot along with Engineer S/Cst Joseph Cormier and local detachment member Cst. Richard W. Green a spotter with local knowledge set out from Skaha Lake and spent most of the day looking for the fugitive. At approximately 13:40 pm, the low flying aircraft crashed into a hillside orchard nearly five miles north of Okanagan Falls. The cause of the crash was never determined but it was believed the plane stalled due to a sudden down-draft. All three members were killed on impact and the subsequent crash ignited a forest fire that eventually covered 80 acres of land. This tragedy was further compounded when the original witness who reported seeing the suspect in the area, admitted to police that he had made a false report of the sighting “just to see some excitement”.

All three men were Second World War veterans, Rothwell and Cormier had served in the RCAF and Green in the Royal Canadian Navy.

S/Sgt. Stanley Rothwell a native of Arden Manitoba was survived by his wife, Helen and their son. He was buried in Valleyview Memorial Gardens in Newton BC.

Photograph of the grave marker for Staff Sergeant Stanley Rothwell (Reg.#10880) (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles).

Photograph of the grave marker for Staff Sergeant Stanley Rothwell (Reg.#10880) (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

The remains of S/Cst. Joseph Cormier a native of Moncton NB were returned to his mother and he was interred in Notre Dame du Calvair cemetery in Charterville, NB.

Cst. Richard Green was from Rencontre West; Newfoundland and was survived by his wife Shirley and their two children. He was buried in the Municipal Cemetery in Chemainus BC.

This was the RCMP Air Dvision’s first ever-fatal air crash using Force owned planes since its inception in 1937.

1966 – The British Empire Medal for Gallantry and The Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery were awarded to #22807 Constable Joseph Emile Gilles Potvin age 25, for rescuing three people from a submerged aircraft.

Photograph of the British Empire Medal for Gallantry medal which is similar to the one awarded to Constable Joseph Emile Gilles Potvin.

Constable Potvin was competing in the 12th International Swim Meet at Lake St.John Quebec on this day. After swimming for three hours he had to withdraw from the competition for medical reasons and was talking with his wife at the finish line near Roberval, when he was advised that a small aircraft had crashed into the lake nearby. He rushed to the scene in a boat operated by Marcel Guay of St. Felicien and observed the tail section sticking out of the water and a large gas slick had spread across the surface. Constable Potvin then dove in, and swam underwater to the wreckage. Though he could not see he managed to find the door to the cockpit and wrenched it open freeing two occupants, Gilbert Gaudreault and Marthe Trudel. He then swam inside the plane and found the lifeless body of Colombe Lamontange and pulled her free and swam her body to the boat. The unconscious victim had two broken legs and was bleeding from her mouth, so Potvin used the Shaffer method of artificial respiration and after five minutes succeeded in reviving her.

1967 – While boating on the St. Lawrence River near Charlottenburg Park Ontario non-swimmer Hector Menasce stood up in a paddleboat to take a photograph and he and his wife Lucie fell overboard. After a short struggle he slipped below the surface of and descended in 18 feet of water.

32-year-old J. Donald Sauve happened to hear the cries for help from shore and rushed to the scene and dove in the water and retrieved Menasce’s body. Long Sault detachment members #19175 Corporal Lorne D. Poulin and #24023 / O.1310 Wayne Wawryk were patrolling nearby and observed several boats gathered together 100 yards from shore. When they investigated they found the lifeless body of Menasce on the bow of a boat. Corporal Poulin then used a pocketknife to pry open the victims mouth so that Constable Wawryk could insert a plastic rescusitube and begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. After a couple of minutes the victim was revived and transported to hospital.

As result of their efforts in saving the life of Hector Menasce the Royal Canadian Humane Society awarded a parchment certificate of bravery to Mr. Sauve and certificates of Merit to the two policemen.

1976 – At approximately 9:30 p.m. #23861 Staff Sergeant Lynn F. Kendel, #21786 Corporal John Matthews, and #29434 Constable G.R. Pritchard responded to what they thought was a routine domestic dispute in Inuvik NWT.

Upon arrival they found themselves embroiled in a barricade situation with an armed man who was holding his children hostage and was repeatedly shooting at them with a rifle. The standoff lasted for several hours and all attempts to reason with the gunman failed. The event was brought to a conclusion when one of the hostages managed to open a door to the house enabling S/Sgt. Kendel and Cst. Pritchard to enter the residence unnoticed. While Cpl. Matthews kept the gunman distracted the two policemen rushed in and disarmed him. All three officers received the Commanding Officers Commendation for their courage in apprehending the gunman without anyone being harmed.

1990 – While on routine patrol in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT #37077 Constable Thomas H. Roy, witnessed an intoxicated woman attempting to slash people with a knife. When he intervened, the woman turned the knife on him. After a brief altercation he succeeded in subduing her. For his bravery and composure he was awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery.

August 7

1903 – As a result of concerns from the Canadian Government over possible American territorial ambitions in the arctic The North West Mounted Police (NWMP) establish a detachment at Herschel Island Northwest Territory. For several years American whalers had used the location as a winter base so they didn’t have to make the long journey back to American waters. The new detachment staffed by #2218 / O.156 Sgt. Francis Fitzgerald (see December 21, 1910) and Constable F.D. Sutherland was nothing more than sod huts was which they had to live in until a detachment building could be constructed.

1920 – Honour Roll Number 43.

#6096 Cpl. Ernest Usher, age 25 was killed in a shootout with two train robbers in a restaurant in Bellevue Alberta.

Three Russian men held up the Canadian Pacific Railways train number 63, on August 2, 1920. The trio jumped off the train and fled into the bush near Sentinel Alberta and a manhunt ensued shortly thereafter. It didn’t take authorities very long to identify the culprits as George Akoff, Alex Auloff and Tom Basoff who had come to Lethbridge from Great Falls Montana. When the trio was spotted in Coleman Alberta the combined force of Alberta Provincial Police, RCMP and deputized civilians closed in. On Saturday August 17th, the local Justice of the Peace, Joseph Robertson spotted two of the fugitives in the mining town of Bellevue. After grabbing his pistol and heading for the police office he encountered Cpl. Usher and Provincial Police Constables Frewin and Bailey. The three officers then confronted the men in a local restaurant and a shoot-out erupted when George Akoff pulled a Lugar pistol out of his coat.

Corporal Usher and Constable Frederick Bailey and were shot as they backed out of the restaurant by Akoff even though Constable Frewin had emptied his revolver into him. Tom Basoff then came out of the restaurant armed with two hand guns and shot Cst. Bailey in the head at point blank range and fired several shots into Cpl. Usher until he was dead. He then put a bullet into his partner’s head to put him out of his misery and fled as the Justice of the Peace fired at him from behind a telephone pole.

Basoff’s escape was short lived and when Canadian Pacific Railway Police detectives arrested without incident four days later near Pincer Creek. He was tried and convicted for murder and hanged on December 22, 1924 in Lethbridge.

Alex Auloff was arrested in1924 and extradited back to Canada from Butte Montana and was sentenced to seven years in prison but died in April 1926.

Photograph of the military gravesite salute given at the time burial for Corporal Ernest Usher (Source of photo – Glenbow Institute in Calgary Alberta).

Both policemen were buried in a joint military funeral at the Protestant cemetery in MacLeod Alberta. Corporal Ernest Usher joined the RNWMP on September 14, 1914. He was single and his closest family was his sister Maud, who lived in London England.

1943 – During WW2, many prisoners of war (POW) camps were established across Canada. Among them, Camp 132 at Medicine Hat and another at Lethbridge, Alberta. All POW camps had a hierarchy within them and the camps in Canada were no exception only it was the Nazis within the camps ruled the German prisoners and dished out their own punishments on those who did not conform. On this day August Plaszek was murdered by a mob of fellow prisoners because he was believed to be disloyal to the Nazi cause. Before the war Plaszek had served in the French Foreign Legion and like all Legionnaires who returned to Germany in the 1930’s he was subjected to Nazi ideology and then forced into the German army. Because he was an ex-Legionnaire Plaszek was assigned to Erwin Rommels 361st African Regiment, which was nearly wiped out at Torbuk in 1943, resulting in his captured by the British.

Within the pecking order of the POW camps the Nazis despised the Legionnaires because they felt they didn’t fight hard enough for the Fatherland. In addition they were suspected of being the leaders of the communist sympathizers. The camp lead believed that the ex-legionnaires group was planning to overthrow of the camp leadership so they decided to interrogate four of them. After one of the men was interrogated he made a dash to the warning wire and was taken into custody by camp officials. Having escaped a mob of nearly 600 POW’s the angry men forced their way int the interrogation room and dragged August Plaszek out and took him to the recreation hall where they severely beat him and then hanged him.

Because he was fluent in German, #8281 Sgt. George Krause was transferred from Stony Plain Detachment to work in the Intelligence section and assigned to the case. His 26 month investigation resulted in the two Nazi ringleaders; Werner Schwalb and Adolf Kratz being tried and convicted of murder. Kratz avoided the hangman’s noose by having his sentence commuted but Werner Schwalb was hanged for his role in the crime. When asked if he had any last words, Schwalb said, “Mine Furher I follow thee.” He was hanged on June 26, 1946 at Provincial Gaol, in Lethbridge, Alberta.

His skills in investigating POW murders were call upon again in 1945 (see December 18, 1946) when POW Dr Karl Lehmann was murdered by hanging in Camp 132.

George KRAUSE served in the Force from 1919 – 1954 and died in 1989. CBC produced a historical clip on this incident. Check it out here.

1948 – Honour Roll Number 106.

Photograph of the grave marker for Constable James Boyd Henderson (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).

#14890 2/Cst. James Boyd Henderson drowned in the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque Ont.

Twenty-three year old Constable James Boyd Henderson joined the RCMP on May 1, 1947 and was quickly transferred to Marine Division. He was assigned to the 50’ Patrol Vessel “Carnduff” in Kingston Ontario patrolling the St Lawrence River under command of #12866/ O.472 Corporal Kenneth Creaser. While returning from a regatta at Gananoque Ontario, Cst. Henderson’s career and life were suddenly cut short. As the boat neared Howe Island under full throttle and in calm sea conditions, Cst. Henderson went aft to dump some garbage from a pail. A couple of minutes later the skipper, Cpl. Creaser looked back from the wheel and realized that the pail was on the deck but Cst. Henderson was missing. He immediately turned the vessel and retraced its route to where he found the floating garbage and searched the area for several hours until dark. The area was searched for several days to no avail, ten days later his body was found on the banks of the St. Lawrence.

Cst. Henderson’s body was returned to his parents in Oshawa Ontario where he was buried in the Union Cemetery. The cause of his death was never determined, but he is believed to have lost his balance and fallen overboard possibly striking his head on a boom at the stern of the vessel.