Colorado Gov. Jared Polis pardoned the parents involved in the “Balloon Boy” saga of 2009 as part of nearly two dozen pardons and commutations on Wednesday. Richard and Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty in 2009 after telling authorities that their aptly named 6-year-old son Falcon was inside a silver helium balloon that took off from their backyard.
The balloon’s flight into the atmosphere was followed live by media worldwide, and the story had a happy ending — Falcon had not been in the balloon at all and was found safe at home.
The family basked in the resulting media attention, but their story fell apart after an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Repeating Blitzer’s question to his son, Richard Heene asked Falcon whether he heard his parents call for him as they searched the house.
The boy said yes.
“And why didn’t you come out?” Richard asked.
“You guys said that we did this for the show,” Falcon replied.
Authorities later accused the parents of carrying out a hoax as part of a publicity stunt to market themselves for a reality TV show.