Balloon Boy Parents to Be Charged, Hoax Alleged

I missed the balloon boy saga that apparently took over the cable tv airwaves last week. Not having seen the coverage, I can't quite grasp why there are still 9,497 articles on Google News about it.

Authorities now think it was a hoax and are going to charge the parents with a potpourri of crimes. Coming in after the fact, here's what seem to me to be the salient points: [More..]

A family with three sons in Ft. Collins, CO had a helium balloon that looked like a flying saucer. It came untethered and went up in the air. One of the sons told the father he thought his 6 year old brother was inside a compartment in the balloon, which traveled over 50 miles before setting down. The parents called the news asking for a helicopter to follow it, and then 911. There was a lot of commotion, Denver's airport was shut down for a while, planes were re-routed, military planes joined the search, but the boy wasn't on the balloon. He was hiding in the attic of the garage, afraid his father was mad at him for playing near the balloon earlier.

The Sheriff's office came out and said the parents were credible, they doubted it was a hoax. Then the family went on the tee-vee. The little boy made a comment about not coming out because that's what he was supposed to do according to some kind of script for a show. The parents had been on a reality TV show in the past. They were in the process of pitching others. The TV appearances continued the next morning, and the little boy threw up twice.

The Sheriff's office interviewed the parents again. Sunday they held a news conference to announce it was a hoax, and in what seems like an attempt not to look like idiots, said they knew it was a hoax when they asked to re-interview the parents, but had to keep up the charade to the public that it was a legit incident because otherwise the parents might not have agreed to be re-interviewed. And now the cops aren't even sure the little boy was hiding in the attic or even home when the thing happened. They think that may have been part of the scheme as well.

They got a search warrant for the home and for computers and e-mail and the like. Now the cops say they are likely to file some felony charges and the hoax had been planned for a few weeks. And, nice cops that they are, even though they think the 6, 8 and 10 year old were in on it, they won't file charges against them because they are just kids.

The parents now have a lawyer. First they went to the ACLU, and now they are represented by Denver's excellent civil liberties attorney, David Lane, who most recently represented former CU prof Ward Churchill in his suit for wrongful termination. (Added: The ACLU sent out a correction today stating they never represented the parents.)

On the local news tonight, David reminded people that charges aren't evidence and said he doesn't know what evidence the cops have, but if they have it, "bring it on" and a jury will decide. He also said the parents would surrender to face the charges without the need for an arrest. And, he said he told the parents not to talk directly to the media.

The neighbors of the family, most of whom seem unusually inarticulate, are either unhappy or very happy with all the media attention. A fight broke out between two men outside the house Sunday which a news camera duly recorded. (More on that here.)Since none of those present who were interviewed could speak in a complete sentence, it's not clear why or how it related to the attention the case has brought to the neighborhood, but the news reporter said it did.

So, did anyone here see it? Was it as exciting as the OJ car chase? The whole thing sounds incredibly unimportant to me and I suspect the networks stayed with it for ratings, hoping a tragedy or a miracle would unfold.

If you'd like to know more, David Lane will make the rounds of Monday morning news shows to defend the parents. Sounds to me it's the media who needs defending.

< Third Sweat Lodge Victim Dies | Will Obama Deliver A Public Option? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I was home sick (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jen M on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 05:35:34 AM EST
    I watched it all the way from the President's speech. Af first I was just glad the talking heads weren't going to tell me what the President had just said. Then it was all too Flight of the Navigator to stop watching.

    I still feel sorry for the poor kid. And I still think it's a cool balloon. (ooh, shiny!)

    Happily am out of the country... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Addison on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 07:58:30 AM EST
    ...only read the recap the day after (before it was a confirmed hoax). Being confronted with the whole thing all at once was pretty sickening and I'm glad it was literally impossible for me to have taken part in the macabre thing in any way. Is it too late to hope that people learn something this time?

    This isn't just an American thing, of course, it's just that entertainment has slid to catering to our worst instincts rather than our best, and in the US it has the technological and "artistic" capability to deliver this junk very effectively.

    But how do you encourage entertainment that brings forward the best in people -- it can be reality TV, too; see This Old House or even Survivorman for goodness' sake -- when (a) that isn't as profitable and (b) who decides what's moral and (c) who enforces it with the, uh, 1st amendment and all that.

    On the legal front I don't see how they prove it yet -- the "planning" documents I've heard about are for a Roswell style hoax -- and where on Earth are they going to find an unbiased jury?

    Confirmed? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 08:15:19 AM EST
    Where do you get it is a confirmed hoax? It's accused, but a far cry from confirmed.

    In the media coverage... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Addison on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 08:38:20 AM EST
    ...it's been all but confirmed. There was a suggestion that it was a hoax even as I read the next day, but it wasn't being talked about in the media as if it was confirmed that it was a hoax. Now it's a "confirmed hoax" as far as the media is concerned. Seeing as how this is a media event, and barely something worth talking about otherwise, I was naturally using the media's guideposts for talking about when I first got exposed to the mess. I saw the encapsulation of the whole shebang before it became a "confirmed" hoax post-Blitzer.

    Of course legally it's not "confirmed." And this is a legal site, true. But, let's be honest the story isn't up on this site because it's especially interesting from a legal standpoint. It just somehow became a big enough media meta-event that it is talked about on all blogs in the issue arena of the blog. So, apologies for reverting back to the norms of this story's rightful habitat.


    Exciting no, Compelling yes (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by vicndabx on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 10:12:51 AM EST
    As a father of two young ones, I was glued to the TV thinking...I can only imagine what those parents must be going thru.

    Now that it's over, it should be about the best interests of the kids.  Leave the family alone - other than to possibly provide a little court-ordered counseling and/or support.  Any parent that keeps bringing their kid on tv after what should have been a serious issue (and the kid keeps throwing up) trivializes the matter and needs some, um, shall we say, guidance.  

    That said, we should never discourage people from utilizing the tax-payer dollars we all put in the pot for scenarios just like this.

    Well said (none / 0) (#40)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 12:02:28 PM EST
    We don't need the sheriff out there speculating that there was domestic violence in the home, or worse, that the kids looked drugged to him.

    As for the kid throwing up-- FWIW, the parents say he does this from time to time, something to do with his asthma, they say, so they weren't alarmed by it.

    Definitely a peculiar bunch, but peculiar doesn't necessarily equate to criminal.


    Vomiting (none / 0) (#50)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 12:37:49 PM EST
    My son's one classmate did it - deliberately.  Quite the strategy - attention getting, repellent and the added bonus of time consuming clean up.

    The teachers broke him of the habit at school.  


    Would Orson Wells get charged (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Manuel on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:01:34 AM EST
    for War of the Worlds in today's USA?

    I was convinced there was no 60-70 pound boy weighing down that balloon.

    The dad - and I assume the mom - also knew the balloon was not anywhere near big enough to carry that kind of weight.

    Hoax, from the word go.

    Interesting, then (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:14:53 PM EST
    that the first experts the police called decided it definitely could carry that much weight.  Even once they got precise measurements and calculations afterwards, it came fairly close.

    If you were the dad, even if you were pretty sure the balloon could carry only 2/3 the weight of your 6-year-old, would you be confident of that if your other kid told you the boy was on it?

    The dad pretends to be an amateur scientist in 100 different fields, but beyond the basics, he seems to be a trial-and-error kind of guy.  Whether it was a hoax or not, I doubt he had a clue how much weight the balloon could carry.  He was aiming for something that could lift adult passengers up about 50 feet.  He'd never get there with that contraption, apparently, so I doubt he had any idea how much it could carry until he experimented with it to find out.


    Yep, I heard the "experts." (none / 0) (#74)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 11:48:24 AM EST
    Gettin' their 15 minutes.

    It was obvious just by looking at the balloon that it didn't have a 6 y/o's weight hanging on it.

    Hoax, from the word go.


    I was heard to say (none / 0) (#52)
    by Cream City on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 01:19:21 PM EST
    when I finally caught the story, near the end, that the balloon looked like it was made of tinfoil.:-)

    I can't believe how po'd... (5.00 / 2) (#53)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 01:27:15 PM EST
    people are getting that it is probably a hoax...an op-ed in todays NY Daily News says the state shoud take their kids away...talk about a severe over-reaction!

    I know having knucklehead parents can suck...but so does foster care, and absent serious abuse or neglect kids belong with their parents.

    your second point is highly offensive (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 02:25:47 PM EST
    Please don't repeat it.

    thank you (none / 0) (#66)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 02:59:55 PM EST
    I also thought it was out of character for you.

    and, (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 02:33:51 AM EST
    Sounds to me it's the media who needs defending.

    this surprises you because?

    apparently (i speculate here), 15 minutes of reality tv fame wasn't sufficient, they were going for that golden 30!

    The media needs prosecuting (none / 0) (#2)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:25:28 AM EST
    not defending.

    If only....


    Speculate? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 08:14:06 AM EST
    Is it the influence of Hollywood that has so many people unwilling to believe what's right in front of them? Listen to the media, and you find the parents suspicious people. Listen to the parents, and there is nothing more than a series of errors.

    What the boy said to Larry King was clearly explained by the dad: the media asked Falcon to go back up into the attic where he was hiding so they could get it on film. Why is that so hard to believe?

    This is ridiculous. WHO gave the family the fame? They couldn't just barge onto the sets and force GMA, TODAY, Larry King, etc. to interview them!!


    The family called every show (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by 1040su on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 01:49:02 PM EST
    asking to be on it.  I was watching Morning Joe & they said the father had called their show 3 times that morning trying to get on.  They refused all 3 times.  The rest of the shows could of done the same thing I guess.  

    I was busy (none / 0) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 08:43:09 AM EST
    I haven't a clue.  

    If anybody should be charged... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:04:52 AM EST
    it should be the media outlets...the ballon family should get a medal for exposing the media for the half-wit ratings whores they are.

    The family is only being charged because John Law and Joe Media feel like idiots, and somebody has to pay for their embarassment.

    I did hear that they are being charged (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:08:23 AM EST
    because of the cost of all the rescue people and equipment put into action.

    Bill the Cable News Corps... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:14:28 AM EST
    they're the ones who made money on the deal.

    Bill the media (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:22:23 AM EST
    for the fighter jets that went up to look for the balloon that supposedly could have had a child in it?  If this was a hoax, I think they need to be in trouble.

    That totally baffles me (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by sj on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:21:20 AM EST
    Why on earth send fighter jets?  At the speeds and altitudes that they fly, how were they going to help (if the child had indeed been there)?

    A crop duster (none / 0) (#32)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:24:02 AM EST
    would have been a better thing to send - they can fly at low speeds and their pilots are good, too.

    Down here... (none / 0) (#48)
    by desertswine on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 12:30:29 PM EST
    we chase balloons with pickup trucks.

    pickup trucks with wings? (none / 0) (#49)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 12:33:17 PM EST

    I think they were both trying to track the balloon and see if the child was in it.


    Who made the decision to send (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:23:03 AM EST
    fighter jets up?

    If you listen to the upset in the dad's voice when the balloon lifts off, it doesn't seem planned. If Falcon had been climbing around inside the balloon earlier, and wasn't visible on the ground after the balloon lifted does the scenario where mom or dad asked where Falcon was and his brothers said he was last seen at the balloon make sense that they might have called 911? The 911 call has been released. It sounds scared to me.

    I'm doubting that beyond calling 911 that the family had anything to do with what rescue methods were used. Well, at the least, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.


    I doubt they had anything to do with (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:33:30 AM EST
    what methods were employed to insure their child's safety either.  But if they made this up and there is evidence of that and a jury rules they did, they need to be held accountable.  If we suspect they made it up, I think that needs to be investigated.  If law enforcement holds back its resources in a situation like this and someone gets hurt, they are the first ones held accountable for that.  They get fired.  They get sued.

    They are being publicly embarrassed and (none / 0) (#46)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 12:19:45 PM EST
    criticized universally by the media. So, if they are innocent of the charge of hoax, what do we do to repair that damage?

    They should be held responsible for the costs if proof positive is found that they staged this.


    I guess.... (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:38:15 AM EST
    but nothing too crazy...and if Rupert and GE had any scruples they'd pay the tab.

    Your train of thought (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:50:03 AM EST
    is that if our media weren't such tabloids right now, that people would not be compelled to do such things with their children?  If so, it is an interesting argument from you.  Because usually you come from a position that we are individually responsible for our actions and our persons irregardless of what compels each of us individually.  An example being, that someone who lost a family member to drug use is compelled to fight to keep "illegal" drugs illegal, but drug use is a personal choice (in most cases) and not all drug use can be deemed "bad".

    Point taken... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:55:08 AM EST
    it is an unusual take for me...but I really do think the Balloon Family performed a public service here, although an unintentional one.

    Hate to see 'em get run over the law & order coals over it is all really...I mean its not like we don't waste fighter jet fuel and law enforcement resources on stupid sh*t on the regular...how about a stern warning and call it a day?


    They did point out (none / 0) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:59:44 AM EST
    something vilely defective in our culture and its interaction with the media. We have dumbed our own selves down and continue to ask for more of the same.  I would watch this special on PBS.

    Don't you find it strange the family called (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 12:07:44 PM EST
    a TV news station first and then 911?

    fyi (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:02:48 PM EST
    They didn't call them looking for an interview, they called them to get their helicopter up in the air to track the balloon.  They may well have figured-- absolutely correctly, btw-- that the TV station could get its helo up there and find the balloon faster than a 911 operator could get law enforcement to do it.

    Didn't say they called looking for an interview. (none / 0) (#71)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:49:19 PM EST
    Still odd to me.  HMMD.  

    HMMD? (none / 0) (#72)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:41:03 PM EST
    What is that, Korean code?

    Bad typing. (none / 0) (#73)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 12:20:41 AM EST
    Without fail... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 10:03:32 AM EST
    most people won't see it this way...they will call for the Balloon Family's collective head...another lost opportunity to learn in our race to punish.

    But the general population (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 10:12:44 AM EST
    clamors for all this "reality" stuff.  I never could stand it, and lately I dislike it even more.  With one in a war zone and one being told to have his feet removed, I have enough fricken drama.  And Naomi should be showing up here any day now, we are two weeks from due date.  Doesn't everybody else out there have family laid off, fighting to have their health needs met, fighting to literally stay alive right now in this culture?  Do we just ignore the real struggles in our lives and dealing with them and mastering them just to watch the psuedo struggle of others on the tube?

    I think the reasons you... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 10:33:02 AM EST
    can't stand it are the reasons others love it...a distraction from their own real-life dramas.

    All the more reason not to run 'em over the coals....to paraphrase The Spaniard "Were they not entertained?"


    To not run who over the coals? (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:04:09 AM EST
    Sorry, but my fighter jets don't take to the air and every branch of local law enforcement drop their donut and scramble....to entertain us.

    The Balloon Family... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:16:32 AM EST
    is who I don't wanna see run over the coals...if the state can fire up the helicopters to go looking for grow-ops, they can fire up a jet for an entertaining (to some) wild-goose chase.  If John Law can drop a donut to write a seat-belt ticket they can drop the pastry to chase a balloon...it probably saved a bunch of poor slobs a fine or chains....this is good stuff!

    If they made this up (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:18:12 AM EST
    They need to be in trouble.  Just my opine.

    Totally legit position... (none / 0) (#33)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:25:08 AM EST
    I just think anything that distracts law enforcement from their regularly scheduled tyrannizing is a good thing.  Anything that mocks the sorry state of our media is also good.

    Like I said...give 'em a medal is my opine.  If a small child does end up floating in a balloon and the law doesn't give chase because the Balloon Family cried wolf I will revisit my position:)


    kdog (none / 0) (#35)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:30:04 AM EST
    Life without law enforcement would be intolerable by most of our definitions.  I will be the first one to demand better standards of conduct and physical fitness...but I can't be for wholesale abuse of what I need.

    Life with it... (none / 0) (#37)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:42:05 AM EST
    can run intolerable too pal...I'll make a deal, we'll keep 'em around but any wild goose chases that arise is on the man:)

    One of the charges is concerning (none / 0) (#14)
    by MikeDitto on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:43:45 AM EST
    Conspiracy to attempt to influence a public servant, a class 4 felony.

    18-8-306. Attempt to influence a public servant.

    Any person who attempts to influence any public servant by means of deceit or by threat of violence or economic reprisal against any person or property, with the intent thereby to alter or affect the public servant's decision, vote, opinion, or action concerning any matter which is to be considered or performed by him or the agency or body of which he is a member, commits a class 4 felony.

    First of all, you could interpret that to say that writing a nasty letter to your congressman is a class 4 felony. But Larimer is going one step further--conspiracy to attempt to influence.

    one of my favorite arguments (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 02:24:32 PM EST
    used to be you cannot conspire to attempt to commit a crime, it's an impermissible pyramiding of inchoate offenses. I can't remember if I won.

    So much for Freedom of Speech (none / 0) (#58)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 02:21:40 PM EST

    Speech is speech (none / 0) (#68)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:05:57 PM EST
    If everyone who said, "I'll kill him/her/you" for that was brought up on felony charges, there would be no one to man the prisons.

    I was really referring to the non-violent threats being mentioned in the comments above, though.


    Anyone who wasn't watching (none / 0) (#16)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:52:20 AM EST
    when that balloon was careening around several thousand feet up for an hour or so and they thought there was a 6-year-old trapped in it can have no idea how riveting this was as it was happening.  Media absolutely need not apologize for that in any way, IMHO.

    As for the hoax aspect-- I freely admit they took me in completely, aided not a little by the repeated emphatic statements of support by the sheriff.  And I still remain to be convinced that it was a hoax.

    Among other things, it's a pretty strange way to get publicity to do something like this and then hide from the media while it's going on.  The family only emerged to talk to the press after the balloon came down and was found to be empty and the kid showed up safe.

    The dad does appear to be rather unhinged, but that's beside the point.

    I'm more curious about the behavior of that sheriff.  If his own statement is to be believed (and I'm not sure that it is), he from the get-go aggressively made use of the media to deceive the family in order to give them a false sense of security and then catch them off-guard.  The sheriff gave extensive interviews to every media outlet on the planet to explain why this wasn't a hoax, but then said after the fact that he'd actually privately clued in several favored (he said "trusted") news organizations that he didn't mean it and was actively pursuing the hoax possibility.

    Seems like the sheriff is not only also quite a publicity seeker personally but also perpetrated something of his own hoax.

    I will always be reminded (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 10:01:29 AM EST
    of the O.J. chase when it comes to things like this.  I could have done without the O.J. chase.  I could have really done without the crowds cheering him on lining the streets too.

    The day the Media died. (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:22:33 AM EST
    My POV of the Bronco chase.

    It made it hard to take the Media seriously on anything again.  9/11 didn't help either.  That's the day I wondered if there was any point to listening to anything other than NPR or watching anything other than PBS.  When something drastic happens, I do not need some talking head filling air time with nonsense and garbage.  That is not useful.

    My reaction to the balloon story was "That's novel." with a quick segue into "Yet another Bronco chase.".  Plus a hint of "What were the parents thinking!".  My six year old shouldn't be left alone with anything more dangerous than a marshmallow, especially if he'd seen an adult using it.


    I was home sick and saw the whole thing (none / 0) (#25)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:03:34 AM EST
    and I still dont get why there are still 9,497 articles on Google News about it.

    Because it's weird (none / 0) (#41)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 12:04:05 PM EST
    and interesting, Capt.  I'm normally a hard news kinda person myself, but I'm finding this whole thing, including what looks to me like fairly serious misconduct on the part of the sheriff, pretty interesting.

    I was working, away from teevee (none / 0) (#34)
    by Cream City on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:29:58 AM EST
    and came home toward the end to hear about it from some who had been watching.  Even though part of the manufactured drama still was being played out on the screen, I was too tired for it to grab me.

    Plus, not having had it hyped for hours at me, I did think that it seemed a bit off and possibly a hoax.  Then the more I read about it here, the more I saw the links and the like to this family's past, well . . . it did seem that some folks were fairly gullible.

    And of course, if the case continues to unfold that this was manufactured by the parents, they ought to be charged for something -- and let off without time, I would bet -- and have to cough up for at least some of the costs.  The same goes for false fire alarms when done on purpose, after all -- as in addition to the irresponsibility of putting these costs on the taxpayer, the family could have endangered others really in need of help at the time.  Plus, charges and fines are a  way of discouraging copycats.  

    As for the media, they have shown themselves gullible again, only hurting their credibility further, and that already is costing them a lot in terms of revenue, too, and will continue to do so.

    I watched it at work (none / 0) (#38)
    by eric on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:48:15 AM EST
    and knew something was suspicious.  I even bet the guy in the next office.  I didn't guess hoax by the parents, though.  My money was on the kids pulling a prank.

    Who knows what evidence that the cops have.  FWIW, I do find the situation very suspicious,  but I'll reserve judgment.   If it was indeed a planned ruse, I am less interested in criminal penalties than getting reimbursement for the costs that were incurred as a result.

    Here's my guess (none / 0) (#42)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 12:07:17 PM EST
    The actual balloon release itself was planned to be a stunt, but the possibility the little boy had climbed into it was not.  IOW, a "publicity stunt" gone horribly and potentially tragically wrong.

    Have you seen the release video? (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 12:16:44 PM EST
    The dad sounded legitimately upset that the thether wasn't in place.

    He also sounded legitimately upset that his son might have been in the balloon on the 911 call.


    The dad and mom (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Cream City on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 01:18:23 PM EST
    also met in acting school.

    Just saying. :-)


    LOL (none / 0) (#57)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 02:19:50 PM EST
    Seems they weren't very good at it :)

    These would be (none / 0) (#69)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:07:58 PM EST
    Academy Award winning performances.  I doubt they were that good at acting.  On the 911 call, the mother has such a heavy accent, she's largely incomprehensible.

    Just act naturally. (none / 0) (#75)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 11:49:08 AM EST
    Remember that episode (none / 0) (#39)
    by eric on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:51:44 AM EST
    of Little House on the Prairie when the family goes to the state fair and Carrie goes up unattended in a hot air balloon?

    It's also happened (none / 0) (#44)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 12:07:51 PM EST
    more than once in real life.