FORT COLLINS, CO—HAPPENING NOW: The six year old boy believed to be aboard a runaway floating helium balloon has been found alive and was hiding in the attic of his own home.
A 6-year-old Colorado boy feared to have floated off in a helium balloon has been found safe at his home, hiding in a cardboard box in the garage attic.
He said the boy apparently has been in the attic the whole time.
The boy's brother had said he saw 6-year-old Falcon Heene get in the balloon before it took off. The flight last two hours and spanned 50 miles and set off a frantic search.
The giant silvery helium balloon floated away from a yard in Colorado with a 6-year-old boy believed to be aboard and slowly touched down in a field two hours later with the child nowhere in sight, setting off a frantic search.
The saga captivated people around the country as they stopped to watch the jaw-dropping sight on television of the balloon gliding through the air. The flying saucer-like balloon tipped precariously at times before gliding to the ground in a field, the culmination of a two-hour, 50-mile journey through two counties.
Larimer County sheriff's spokeswoman Kathy Messick said one of the boy's two older brothers reportedly saw 6-year-old Falcon Heene get into a box that was attached to the balloon with pegs. The box was not found when the balloon landed; several people reported seeing something fall from the balloon while it was in the air.
The balloon was owned by the boy's parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, who are storm chasers and also appeared on the ABC reality show "Wife Swap."
Kevin Kuretich, of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, said authorities were searching the ground along the path of balloon. "We're searching for the boy from the point where this took off to where it landed," Kuretich said.
He said the craft had some kind of electric power unit which was run by double-C batteries. He said the balloon did seem to be big enough to carry a 6-year-old.
Messick said investigators are looking into every possibility, including whether the boy was ever in the balloon. Yellow crime-scene tape was placed around the home.
A Kiowa helicopter was being equipped with an infrared camera to fly at 1,000 feet and help search the area where something reportedly fell from the balloon, Army National Guard Capt. Michael Odgers said.
The camera detects temperature differences and could spot a body temperature if the boy were somewhere on the ground.
Jason Humbert saw the balloon land. He said he had gotten a call from his mother in Texas who told him about the balloon. He said he was in a field checking on an oil well when he found himself surrounded by police who had been chasing the balloon, which came to a rest 12 miles northeast of Denver International Airport.
"It looked like an alien spaceship you see in those old, old movies. You know, those black-and-white ones. I came down softly. I asked a police officer if the boy was OK and he said there was no one in it," Humbert said.
Neighbor Bob Licko, 65, said he was leaving home when he heard commotion in the backyard of the family. He said he saw two boys on the roof with a camera, commenting about their brother.
"One of the boys yelled to me that his brother was way up in the air," Licko said.
Licko said the boy's mother seemed distraught and that the boy's father was running around the house. The Poudre School District in Fort Collins, where the boys attend, did not have classes for elementary schools Thursday because of a teacher work day.