Falcon Heene, the six-year-old boy reported to have flown off in a runaway homemade balloon craft earlier Thursday, has been found at home, hiding in a box in the attic of the family garage, news sources report.
The news puts a happy ending on a story that appeared to be heading towards tragedy when the balloon, which took off from the grounds of the Heene family home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, landed Thursday afternoon with no occupants to be found.
News commentators speculated the boy may have fallen out.
Others suggested the whole thing may have been a hoax.
The ABC affiliate in Denver states:
The family reported Falcon could not be found after the balloon lifted off. His older brother told his parents that he saw Falcon climb into a box attached to the bottom of the balloon and the balloon lifted off, Larimer County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kathy Messick said.
Earlier, authorities thought the boy might have fallen from the balloon and were closely examining an amatuer photo that showed a black mass below the balloon to determine if it is something that fell. The photo was taken by Lisa Eklund as the balloon floated away from the boy's neighborhood.
Falcon's father, Richard Heene, is a storm-chaser. He and his family had appeared on the ABC reality show Wife Swap.
Police suspect a six-year-old boy believed to have floated off in a homemade balloon aircraft earlier today was never in the balloon in the first place, reports Editor & Publisher.
"A local sheriff's spokesman has now said they believe boy never got in the craft and may be hiding in the neighborhood," E&P states.
The New York Times is reporting that "officials say there is a possibility that [six-year-old] Falcon [Heene] might be hiding in his Fort Collins neighborhood, in fear of recriminations."
But KUSA-TV in Colorado reports that police are searching for a box that had been attached to the balloon before it lifted off, which the boy may have climbed into. The box was not recovered at the scene where the experimental balloon landed.
BREAKING NEWS ... DEVELOPING ...
A runaway homemade balloon aircraft reported to have been carrying a six-year-old Colorado boy has landed without the boy inside, Colorado's KGMH TV is reporting.
The child's fate is "unclear," reports the Associated Press, but news pundits are speculating the boy may have fallen out.
It is also possible the boy may never have been in the balloon in the first place.
The boy and his father had been working on the balloon at their home near Fort Collins earlier in the day when the balloon became unhooked and floated off, the ABC affiliate in Denver reports. The boy had been seen climbing into it earlier.
Celebrity gossip site TMZ.com is reporting that the boy's family, the Heenes, had appeared on the 100th episode of the ABC reality show Wife Swap, in which the mothers of two families switch places for several weeks.
Original story continues below.
A 6-year-old boy climbed into a homemade balloon aircraft and floated away Thursday, forcing officials to scramble to figure out how to rescue the boy as he flew through the air.
The bizarre scene was playing out live on television and prompted fears that the flying saucer-shaped balloon would crash with the young child inside.
This live video is from MSNBC.