Late yesterday, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden told reporters that he expects to file criminal charges in the case of 6 year-old “Balloon Boy” Falcon Heene‘s non-ride on a runaway helium balloon. He also said that his office was trying to obtain search warrants, and expressed disappointment that they could only file class 3 misdemeanor charges.
The announcement came on the heels of “Balloon Boy” dad Richard Heene‘s bizarre press conference, in which he insisted there was “Absolutely no hoax,” then provided reporters a box in which to place their questions. Apparently, Heene’s Guide to Press Conferences begins, “Step One: Cut a hole in a box…”
Here’s video of the Sheriff’s announcement regarding the investigation:
There has been no shortage of media criticism over the “Balloon Boy” story, but this is the stage at which the media need to go deeper, do a much better job than they have been, and stick with it until the end. The horror of the initial reports gave way to relief when the boy was found, then a mix of shock and hilarity when the boy blurted out “We did this for a show,” and Wolf Blitzer didn’t seem to notice.
The story turned disturbing after that, though, with the TV networks lightly grilling the Heene family about the hoax “possibility” even as young Falcon Heene vomited his way through the interviews. Now, more disturbing details are emerging about Richard Heene.
When the next Kanye West comes along, the internets will forget about “Balloon Boy,” and Falcon Heene will still be a 6 year-old who lived through something very traumatic, who was the white-hot center of the universe for a moment, and who, right or wrong, painted a bullseye on his dad on national television. What happens to him from here is a story worth telling.
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