A 6-year-old Colorado boy floated away in a homemade experimental balloon Thursday afternoon. After traveling for a couple hours and reaching heights of at least a thousand feet, the balloon finally descended at 3:40 p.m. EST onto a field outside Colorado Springs, but, according to CNN affiliate KMGH, the child was not aboard when it touched down. A search has now been launched to find the missing boy.
Weld County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Margie Martinez said that the boy’s sibling saw the 6-year-old climb into the balloon, which was tethered in the back yard of his parents’ Fort Collins home. The door to the balloon’s basket was open. The boy, Falcon Heene, went inside and untied the rope, allowing the balloon to go aloft. Martinez said that it was possible that the child had fallen out of the open door.
The Associated Press reported that the Colorado Army National Guard was preparing to send a OH-58 Kiowa helicopter to help with the search effort.
Television crews and cameras followed the fast-moving aircraft, a helium-filled Mylar balloon, as it traveled quickly eastward. No one noticed a figure suddenly descending from the balloon as it was being tracked. The possibility exists, however, that the child may have fallen out between the time the balloon began its ascent and before officials and cameras began tracking it.
By early afternoon, the child still had not been located. The boy’s Fort Collins home and the surrounding neighborhood had been searched to eliminate the possibility that the 6-year-old had never actually climbed into the basket of the balloon or had climbed or jumped out unnoticed by his brother before the balloon lifted off.
Major networks followed the unfolding events as they occurred. CNN’s “Situation Room” reported that law enforcement and volunteers were continuing the search around the Fort Collins home. Wolf Blitzer called the situation a “mystery,” citing that there had been no indication that the little boy had fallen out of the balloon.
There also exists the possibility that the 6-year-old boy is in hiding from his parents and authorities (and volunteers), afraid to come out because of the uproar he seems to have caused, not to mention allowing his parents’ balloon to drift away. Many are hoping that that particular scenario plays out due to the dire implications of the boy not being the balloon’s basket when it landed.
“Situation Room,” CNN Television