Upset that anyone would think he would stage a stunt involving his own son and a homemade flying-saucerlike balloon, and struggling with still-raw emotions, Richard Heene called Thursday’s riveting drama played out in the skies over northern Colorado a “horrible moment.”
“I really don’t want to relive that again. It was a really horrible, horrible moment for me and my wife as well,” Heene told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Friday from his Fort Collins, Colo., home.
Heene was trying to describe the emotions he felt when he received a call from the Larimer County Sheriff telling him that after a two-hour flight, the balloon thought to be carrying his 6-year-old son, Falcon, had landed in a field — and the boy wasn’t in it.
The contractor and amateur storm chaser and alien investigator struggled to talk and seemed on the verge of tears. “The first thing I was thinking was perhaps he had fallen out,” Heene said.
‘We did this for a show’
The discovery that a compartment below the mushroom-shaped balloon was empty touched off a three-hour hunt for Falcon during which searchers retraced the route the silvery craft had taken. The drama, which had been watched by millions on cable TV, finally ended when the boy came down from the attic of the family’s garage — where he had been hiding the entire time.
During an interview Thursday night on CNN, Falcon touched off a controversy when he said, “We did this for a show.” The comment raised questions about whether the entire drama had been a stunt designed to bring attention to the Heene family.