Balloon boy’s father to face criminal charges

By Calvin Palmer

Balloon boy’s father Richard Heene will soon come down to earth with a bump. Larimer County Sheriff’s office is planning to file criminal charges.

Sheriff Jim Alderden said yesterday that officers were preparing search warrants and drawing up charges against the eccentric amateur scientist and unidentified members of his family.

The sheriff did not give specifics, but he said the charges would likely be a Class Three misdemeanor, adding “which hardly seems serious enough given the circumstances.”

He said he would be talking with the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies about possible federal charges stemming from the incident.

The Heene family, of Fort Collins, Colorado, made international news on Thursday when they reported that a UFO-shaped, helium-filled balloon had escaped with their six-year-son, Falcon, inside. The balloon floated for 50 miles, chased by media and rescuers, but was found to be empty when it landed more than two hours later.

Falcon was later found safe and the family said he was hiding in the attic over the garage the whole time.

Heene denies it was a hoax.

He told reporters outside his home: “Absolutely no hoax.” He then retreated back into his house.

Sheriff Alderden said on Friday that authorities were initially convinced of the parents’ honesty, given verbal statements, body language and emotions “that were entirely consistent with the events that were taking place”.

But to those of us a bit longer in the tooth, and with the healthy skepticism all good journalists should have, suspected it was a publicity right from the start.

And that theory gained a degree of confirmation when Falcon, in an interview with CNN, let slip that he had not come out of his hiding place during the drama because “you guys said that we did this for the show”.

[Based on reports by AFP and The Denver Post.]

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