An American expatriate who fell into the Tonle Sap river while walking off a boat docked along Phnom Penh’s riverside on Wednesday night is believed to have drowned after his body remained missing on Thursday evening.
Ken Cramer, 59, a longtime expatriate who founded Canby Publications and was a keen observer of Cambodian politics and society, was the last person to walk off a party boat when he slipped and fell off the metal walkway at about 7:50 p.m., police said.
Deputy Wat Phnom police chief Lam Sa Oeum was among the authorities who arrived at the scene. He said police called in the navy to search the river, but gave up at about 2 a.m.
Mr. Sa Oeum said there were about 25 people on the boat, and those questioned over the incident said Ken Cramer was not drunk at the time. Photographs from the scene near the Titanic Restaurant show a rain-soaked metal walkway with thin, waist-high railings.
The deputy police chief said that Ken Cramer’s family had hired local Cham Muslim fishermen to help search for his body.
There was an outpouring of grief as news of the death spread to online expatriate forums, where Ken Cramer, who also went by Casey Nelson, was a frequent contributor using the handle “LTO,” short for long-term observer—a nod to his arrival as an election observer in Cambodia in the early 1990s.
“LTO was a fount of wisdom and knowledge about Cambodia, scrupulously ethical, strongly opinionated yet able to maintain objective and able to appreciate others’ points of view,” one user said on the website Khmer440.
Apart from being an active member of the country’s foreign media through his social media accounts and publication of visitor guides for Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and other tourist draws, Ken Cramer for years kept a blog in which he mused and reported on Cambodia.
He leaves behind a wife and children in Phnom Penh.