Page last updated at 00:57 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 01:57 UK

'Balloon boy' found safe at home


TV news crews in the US tracked the balloon as it landed

A six-year-old boy thought to have been carried away by a helium balloon in Colorado was in fact hiding in a box in an attic at home, an official has said.

Larimer county sheriff Jim Alderden told reporters that apparently Falcon Heene had "been there the whole time".

Police had been searching for the boy after his brother said he thought Falcon had taken off with the balloon.

The drama was played out on TV, with US networks devoting their airtime to live footage of the balloon over Colorado.

'He yelled at me'

The balloon landed in fields and was surrounded by rescue vehicles after a two-hour flight.

Falcon Heene at a press conference after he was found in the attic of his family's home, 15 October 2009
Falcon Heene said he hid in the attic because he was scared

Police officers searched on the ground in the direction in which the balloon flew, as well as the neighbourhood where the family lives.

But Mr Alderden then announced that the boy had been found alive and well in a box in the attic of his family's house.

He said the house had been searched twice, but the search had obviously not been thorough enough. He also said that police had questioned the brother repeatedly.

"What he said was that he saw his brother climb into that apparatus and he was very adamant, they interviewed him multiple times and that was his consistent story," Mr Alderden said

"I can't tell you how many times this has happened over the course of my career," he added.

Heene family address reporters outside their home

The boy's father, Richard Heene, apparently used the balloon to track the weather.

He said he got angry with Falcon for climbing into a compartment in the tethered balloon on Thursday before the balloon was accidentally released.

But in the meantime, Falcon had left the balloon.

"I was in the attic and he scared me because he yelled at me," Falcon said. "That's why I went in the attic."

Asked what he thought when the balloon had landed with no sign of his son, Richard Heene said: "The only thing I could think of was that he had fallen out."

"This is a relief, we're going to watch him a lot closer," he added.

The silver balloon, apparently made by the boy's father, reportedly reached heights of 7,000ft (2km).

It was floating about 40 miles north of Denver before it came down.

Flights at Denver international airport were disrupted by the incident.

The Heene family had previously appeared on the ABC reality show Wife Swap.

The channel described them as a "storm-chasing, science-obsessed family".

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