Police to investigate whether family staged balloon boy's 'disappearance'
Saturday 17 October 2009
Was it all a load of hot air? The parents of a six-year-old at the centre of the "balloon boy" incident hit the airwaves yesterday to deny angrily reports that they staged their son's disappearance in an elaborate publicity stunt.
Richard Heene, who on Thursday sensationally claimed that his child, Falcon, was drifting across the Colorado sky in a silver helium balloon, said rumours that the whole thing was a hoax are "extremely pathetic" and "absolutely untrue". Police have launched an investigation, and are anxious to establish why, shortly after the boy was reunited with his parents, he appeared to admit to a TV interviewer that the whole thing was staged "for a show".
In interviews with all three major US television networks yesterday, Mr Heene was repeatedly asked if he faked the incident, which began when a large, saucer-shaped weather balloon floated from the garden of his family home in the city of Fort Collins, near Denver.
"I'm starting to get a little ticked off with this," he replied. "I'm repetitively getting asked this ... It's horrible. After the crap we went through? No. No. No."
Falcon was at the centre of both a massive rescue operation and an international media feeding-frenzy on Thursday, when his parents announced that he had climbed inside the home-made balloon, and drifted away in high winds.
Dramatic news footage showed the craft careering across the plains of northern Colorado, at several thousand feet. Hundreds of rescuers, including police, fire and ambulance crews and helicopter-borne members of the National Guard, were scrambled. But when the balloon eventually landed, Falcon was nowhere to be found. Later, rescuers learnt he had been hiding in a small cubby-hole in the roof of the family's garage.
Mr Heene initially claimed that his son had secreted himself there after he was told off for misbehaving. But when CNN asked Falcon to explain why he had gone into hiding, the boy replied, "We did this for a show".
The Heene family's eccentric background has fuelled rumours of a stunt. They had twice previously appeared on the programme Wife Swap, where Richard was described as a "fringe scientist" who spends his spare time chasing storms and hunting UFOs to "find evidence to support his belief that all humans are descended from aliens".
During further interviews yesterday, Falcon appeared to panic onscreen when news anchors cross-examined his dad. On NBC, he threw up into a plastic. On ABC, he said, "Mom, I feel like I'm going to vomit", and ran out of the room.
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 E.L James's #AskELJames Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
Dutch city of Utrecht to experiment with a universal, unconditional 'basic income'
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
£15000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The position will be home based...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent publishing and...