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October 16th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

While world worried, 'balloon boy' was safe in attic

(CNN) - After scouring northern Colorado by foot and air, frantically chasing a now-infamous Mylar balloon for dozens of miles and interviewing his big brother over and over, local and federal authorities ended their search for 6-year-old Falcon Heene where it began - at his house.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Falcon Heene, 6, said he hid in the family attic after his father yelled at him. "]

He was in a box. In the attic. The whole time.

"I played with my toys and took a nap," Falcon told a group of reporters outside his home Thursday afternoon.

"He says he was hiding in the attic," said Falcon's father, meteorologist Richard Heene, clutching his son. "He says it's because I yelled at him. I'm sorry I yelled at him."

But in a later interview with CNN's "Larry King Live," Falcon said he heard his parents call for him from the garage. When asked by his father on-air why he didn't respond, the boy replied, "You guys said we did this for the show."

When Heene was pressed by Wolf Blitzer, who was filling in for King, to explain what his son meant, he became uncomfortable, finally saying he was "appalled" by the questions. He added that Falcon was likely referring to all the media coverage.

Authorities say they believe the case, which launched search efforts by the Colorado Air National Guard and Federal Aviation Administration, was genuine.

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Filed under: You Have to See This
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Dave Goodwin

    This guy is in real trouble, his balloon blew through class B or class C airspace without a radio and a transponder. He is looking at a heavy fine from the FAA, thousands of dollars.

    October 17, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  2. Kitty C

    Wolf Blitzer and CNN are disgraces. Yesterday early evening, Wolf Blitzer was calling the balloon-boy story a "tragedy" BEFORE he even knew what (if anything) had happened to the boy. The tragedy was that CNN spent so much time on this ridiculous story (hoax) - hour by hour coverage! Glad I turned off CNN and went to my local NBC channel for some real news. Is someone from FOX running CNN now? Really, Wolf; a "tragedy"??? Get a grip.

    October 16, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  3. ronvan

    YES, YES: Let's watch the police investigate this and if "cause" is found I would make this nut pay for the expense's and then consider removing the children from them!

    October 16, 2009 at 9:54 am |
  4. Danny Clarke

    Another gen'd up non-story by CNN. Isn't there enough real news going on in the world? Why does CNN feel it has to pad out their news with fluff like this? Maybe someone at CNN should take a break and watch BBC to see how real reporting is done.

    October 16, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  5. LTC Tom

    We had 4 soldiers killed in Afghanistan and the balloon story was your lead? You guys are sad!

    October 16, 2009 at 8:38 am |

    How stupid does this family think the public is? This was a publicty stunt. The father was standing there vidio taping the baloon launch. He lied when he said the boys came into the house and told him the baloon took off. He and his wife has some very serious problems and the social services should look into this. They put their children into very dangerous situations.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:27 am |
  7. Karen D

    To recognize the truth all you have to do is watch all of the other members of the family durning the interview. As the little boy is trying to answer the question, the mom is nodding her head...yes.. to "assist" him with the answer. When he says "we did it for a show" the other little boy has an "Uh oh" look on his face. You can also almost HEAR the dread in the room during the silence. The father tries to take control by saying, "I see where you're going with this" Wolf only asked what everyone would want to know. Yes, this little boy is 6 years old. His parent's acting is probably what confused him. Little kids almost always tell the truth.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:27 am |
  8. Scott Stodden

    I think and believe a more serious investigation needs to be done.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    October 16, 2009 at 8:24 am |
  9. nancy

    I understand the coverage of the balloon story, but this morning's drilling by John Roberts to the parents about their kids swearing in an unrelated video is going to far. How ridiculous!
    How off track. He's looking to " make or break " more news out of a story that is over.

    Doesn't CNN have more important things to investigate than a couple young kids swearing. What a waste of air time. This type of reporting makes me want to shut the TV off. Thank god for people like Blitzer, Cooper, etc.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:24 am |
  10. mike-sey

    Another sad day for overwrought, panic journalism. Coming on the heels of the great terrorists who never were on the Hudson Fiasco, we get the 6year-old astronaut who never was.

    Hours of non-stop footage and breathless, tension building commentary on a run-away balloon and boy and speculation on every way it could end up badly. The saddest part was the great investigative reporter Wolf Blitzer grilling a six-year old about doing what six -year -olds do for an hour on live TV when the kid should have been in bed; Wolf too ,probably.

    No wonder the USA is becoming such a jittery, off-centre society which finds it hard to distinguish reality from celebrity and self-promotion, fact from fiction. Hardly inspires confidence in CNN and the nation's ability to approach the great issues of war and peace rationally..

    October 16, 2009 at 8:22 am |
  11. Chet

    CNN should follow the example of Major Leage Baseball. Don't show attention mongers on camera. Problem solved, both for them not being rewarded for doing it, and for me not having to watch it.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  12. Chet

    Really, how freaking much coverage does this (non)story warrant? I rely on American Morning to give me NEWS, not this ridiculous garbage. I don't care how many people are all ZOMG about this idiocracy. I wish I could get back the majority (yes, the majority) of the last hour during which I watched CNN, desperately hoping for actual news but instead being shown to this nonsense again and again (and again). Sure, fine, cover it, give it a few minutes of attention, but don't wallpaper the hour with it for goodness sake.

    CNN should choose journalism over tabloidism. But I guess perhaps that's not as profitable. Shame on you, CNN.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:14 am |
  13. Bill Young

    I also agree that Richard Heene was just using the media to get his name framed on Tv. Sure its worrying that a child could have been in the ballon. However when the boy said – 'You guys said we did this for the show' during the interview and with the response from the parents it still doesn't add up. Im just thinking anaylsts should look at the behavior the father is showing during the interview and to compare that behavior when people lie. And the last thing they to happen is to turn this whole thing into a chairty. As well as using a small boy as a media stunt.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  14. Ryan S

    After the roberts interview, its clear this is your average do-what-i-can to get on tv family. .Seriously if this guy gets one more interview you might as state your support for the waste of tax dollars. I mean the kid said it himself – " You said it was all for the show ". I think Richard Heene should be made responsible for atleast half of the nearly half million dollar price tag spent on this ridiculous wild goose chase. Just think of it like him paying for his publicity as opposed to the taxpayers.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:08 am |
  15. Kyle

    Really...can we just (silently) award this guy his own wing-nut of the week award and move on to real news?

    Whether this was a legit accident or totally staged this guy and his family has had their 15 minutes...and then some.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:08 am |
  16. Greg

    Wasn't yesterday a school day? Why weren't those kids in school?
    Let the National Gaurd and other emergency resources submit their cost for this hoax and submit it to Mr. Heene for payment.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:05 am |
  17. Kyle

    John...really? Can we just (silently) award the Dad his own wing-nut award and move on to real news?

    Whether the whole thing was legit or staged this guy has had his 15 minutes and it's time to move on.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:05 am |
  18. Charllie

    Get these people off the air! It is pathetic enough that the average American has been reduced to "reality" tv. Either a stunt or a mistake, these people have had their 15 minutes. If there was a misuse of public resources, it is up to the officials of the state of Colorado to determine. It is a waste of our time in a 24 hour news cycle to grant these people more "reality" fame. We do not care about their views on profane language in or out of the home. We do not care about their past participation in a "reality" program. There are so many more important issues affecting our nation. Is this what attracts viewers, sponsors and ratings? Reducing a quality news network to the level of tabloid television is an insult to journalists and citizens alike.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:05 am |
  19. nick

    Please stop covering the Heene family. The balloon clearly could not lift a child – it just wasn't big enough or inflated enough. It must have been clear it ws a setup, a stunt.
    Out of respect for your audience don't give them any more coverage – I don't want th hear their voices – unless the coverage is of them being arrested.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  20. Sheila S.

    I just saw the interview on CNN of the parents alone this morning. These people are "crazy". I feel this was a hoax because they even video tape the baloon leaving the ground. If you were outside with your children during a project like this, you would know someone is missing in the yard or ask if he's inside the house, bathroom or whatever!! The father is jumping around and you can tell it was fake, and staged. They have wasted thousand of tax payers money for the search, aircrafts, emergency vehicles and time.
    They should be fined by the States that were involved in this. Then the video of them cursing? Come on!!! These are children and the parents are looking for a quick buck!! No Jon & Kate here!!! That is so sad. The video of the backyard showing the baloon taking off really tells the truth they are NOT telling the truth.
    Make them pay a FINE!!!! If that was anyone else, they would be charged through the Courts and this isn't funny. They are sucking up the media with these interviews by the media and there are more important things happening in our world right now.

    October 16, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  21. Sandy

    Last night on Wolf's interview the boy said he played in the attic & got INTO HIS BED & went to sleep....why didn't they check up there?

    October 16, 2009 at 7:57 am |
  22. Margaret C

    I am more convinced now that something smells fishy with this family, especially after seeing that the father was right there when it happened with video camera running. He had to know that there was nothing attached to the balloon for the boy to crawl into.

    October 16, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  23. John gordon

    Richard Heene got what he wanted . To sucker the media , [you] to have him on tv .
    The media is now to blame. Shame on you .

    October 16, 2009 at 7:21 am |