‘Balloon boy’ dad to media: Put questions in box

Richard Heene offers a cardboard box Saturday to receive questions about his son and about his famous balloon.
The man whose giant Mylar balloon ascended into the sky this week, amid fears that his 6-year-old was aboard, emerged from his house Saturday and offered a cardboard box for the media to submit questions.

“I got people e-mailing me, calling me; they’ve got a lot of questions, and I don’t know how to quite frankly answer any of them other than I’ve got a box,” Richard Heene said about 10 a.m. He said he’d answer the questions later Saturday night. “I’m going to place the box up front; please write your questions down,” he said. “I have no idea what the news are saying. I don’t have cable.” The situation captured the nation’s attention Thursday, after authorities reported that the family’s experimental helium balloon was set adrift, apparently with young Falcon Heene inside. Watch an “AC360” discussion of the incident Rescuers from several counties followed the silver, saucer-like vessel as it raced across the Colorado sky until it made a soft landing 90 miles and more than 90 minutes away in a field. The boy was later found in an attic above the family’s garage. Authorities said Friday that they planned to reinterview the family as speculation mounted that the incident was staged.

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“We feel it’s incumbent on us as an agency to attempt to reinterview them and establish whether this is in fact a hoax or actual event,” Larimer County Sheriff James Alderden said Friday. “We believe at this time that it’s a real event.” The sheriff’s office said it was conducting background checks on the Heenes. Alderden told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday that — based on reports that the parents “took these children into potentially dangerous situations” with tornado chases, the experimental balloons and other activities — it would be “appropriate to involve child protection [services] to at least see what the family situation is and whether the children are in a safe condition.” Earlier, Alderden said his department has contacted child protection officials but asked them not to contact the family until investigators have had a chance to re-interview them. “I’m feeling very, very grateful that Falcon is among us,” Heene told CNN’s “American Morning” on Friday. “We went through so many emotions yesterday.” But on CNN’s “Larry King Live” on Thursday night, Heene asked Falcon why he had not come out from hiding when his parents were calling for him. “You guys said we did this for the show,” the boy said. Heene said his son was confused when he made the “show” remark. There were media assembled on the front lawn asking all sorts of questions, and that’s what Falcon was referring to, Heene said.

If it were determined that the incident was a hoax, “the only thing we have is them making a false report to authorities, which is a Class 3 misdemeanor,” Alderden said. But, he said, authorities could seek to recoup the money spent chasing the balloon and searching for the boy.