Crisis averted—or publicity stunt?

UPDATED: Sheriff threatens to send family a bill. Balloon Boy says he did it for a "show"

UPDATE: A new statement from the Weld County Sheriff’s Office has stirred rumours about exactly what caused yesterday’s dramatic events. “We might send them a bill,” announced Depty Margie Martinez on Friday. “We had all these resources taken away from doing the workload that would normally be done and redirected toward this one incident.” Apparently, Martinez estimated that potential bill at “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.

Richard Heene says he is “appalled” by suggestions that yesterday’s drama was nothing but a hoax. Yesterday, major news networks tuned their attention to the Heene family after six-year-old Falcon Heene—and a large balloon shaped like a spacecraft that had been tethered in the family’s backyard—went missing. Believing that the boy might have climbed in the balloon, which reached heights of 7,000 ft, Colorado state authorities initiated a massive and expensive rescue mission. In the end, it turned out that the boy was not in the balloon, but rather hiding in his attic. The family breathed a sigh of relief.

Or did they? Last night, in an interview on CNN, Falcon was asked why he stayed hiding in his attic. His response, “You had said we did this for a show,” referring to his father, has spurred rumours that the whole chase was simply a publicity stunt. The Heenes are certainly not camera shy. The self-described storm chasing, thrill-seeking family has twice appeared on the ABC reality show, Wife Swap. And Richard Heene has an amateur video series on YouTube, where he comments on topics ranging from Britney Spears to the Loch Ness Monster. After Falcon’s suspicious comment on CNN, Mr. Heene interrupted the interview to say, “I’m kind of appalled after all the feelings that I went through, up and down, that you guys are trying to suggest something else.” Later, he said he believed that Falcon had been confused by all the TV crews reporting on his story.

BBC News

Fox News

Times Colonist

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.