Oct 16, 2009 2:58 PM

Sheriff: No evidence of crime in balloon incident

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden held a news conference Friday afternoon about the incident surrounding a home-made balloon that lifted off from a Fort Collins home yesterday.  For about two hours authorities thought a six year old boy was on board. 

Sheriff Alderden said the initial search of the house was not as extensive as he originally thought.  He said his officers searched the house three times, including the crawl space, but did not find the way to get into the rafter space above the garage.  He also said the boy was not in a box in the attic as he said yesterday.  Apparently the boy had crawled onto a box and used it to raise himself into the attic space.

Sheriff Alderden said the balloon was capable of lifing more than the 37 pound boy.  He said experts at Colorado State University believe the balloon could have lifted 80 pounds.

He said his staff believed yesterday the family was telling the truth about the accidental deployment of the balloon and he believes that today.  The family will again be interviewed tomorrow. 

He told reporters in Fort Collins the family had planned to let the balloon go up 20 feet and somehow the balloon got away.  Sheriff Alderden said when the boy appeared yesterday afternoon the investigators on scene asked to interview the boy.  He said the parents were given an opportunity to be there during the interview and declined.

He said the search yesterday took more than 80 personnel and a total of about 650 hours in Larimer County alone.  He said he didn't know the cost.

Sheriff Alderden said there was no evidence that 6-year-old Falcon Heene had food or toys in the attic.  He said this is not a typical American family, they have a different dynamic than most American families. 

If this is determined to be a hoax, the only charge that could be filed would be making a false report, which is a class three misdemeanor. If this turns about to be a false report, the Sheriff could seek restitution for some costs.

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