Sheriff: No indication balloon ordeal was hoax

FORT COLLINS, Colorado - (AP) - A Colorado official said Fridaythere's no indication a family was carrying out a hoax when theyreported their 6-year-old son was in a helium balloon that floatedaway from their home, causing a frenzied rescue effort before thechild was found hiding in the garage.

"We believe at this time that it was a real event. Certainlypeople are free to speculate," Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderdensaid. He added that if the episode "turns out to be a hoax, wewill seek restitution by whatever means we have available."

Falcon Heene vanished Thursday around the time his family'shomemade helium balloon floated away from their home, setting off afrantic search as authorities scoured the plains of northernColorado for the youngster.

Questions were raised about the incident after the boy said "wedid this for a show" in a live television interview with CNN. Theboys' parents are storm chasers who appeared in the ABC televisionreality show "Wife Swap."

The boy's father, Richard Heene, called accusations that theordeal was a publicity stunt "extremely pathetic."

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