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.
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