Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Balloon Boy Hoax

Last week, most of America watched as a flimsy weather balloon designed to look like a spaceship, floated across Colorado. Authorities were lead to believe a 6-year old boy named Falcon Heene was aboard the craft. After the balloon fell to earth and no one was discovered aboard, the family produced the boy and told the press he had been hiding in the attic because his father had yelled at him. Authorities stood behind the family and denied suspicions that the entire episode was a hoax of some kind, but evidence began mounting in rapid succession.

Falcon accidentally mentioned that his father had told him to hide as part of "a show." It came to light that the father had been shopping a reality series to several networks, which none had bought. It came to light that the Heenes had already been on the reality show, Wife Swap, not once but twice. Then, video footage of the family launching the balloon surfaced. The Gawker then paid a former associate of Heene's for his story, in which he said the whole thing was staged.

Finally, the Heene parents were grilled by police for some five hours. Though they were released, the sheriff announced yesterday that charges would be filed. Further, he said his office was working with federal authorities to bring more serious charges against the parents; "filing a false police report" seemed too lenient for the case which was covered by all the major cable networks and even the national news. It is possible the Heenes could be charged with "attempt to influence a public servant" (basically a glorified version of "lying to the police" - or "filing a false report"), which carries a maximum sentences of six years in prison!

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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