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Colorado boy found safe
6-year-old feared floating off in balloon discovered in attic

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - A 6-year-old Colorado boy feared to have floated off in a helium balloon was found safe at his home Thursday, hiding in a cardboard box in the garage attic.

Sheriff Jim Alderman turned to reporters during a news conference and gave a thumbs up and said, 'He's at the house.' Alderden said an investigator on the scene saw the boy and he was fine, and had apparently been in the attic the whole time.

The giant silvery helium balloon floated away from the family's yard late Thursday morning, sparking a frantic rescue operation after the boy's brother said he saw 6-year-old Falcon Heene get into the balloon.

The flying saucer-like craft, shown live on television nationwide, tipped precariously at times before gliding to the ground in a field, the culmination of a two-hour, 50-mile journey through two counties.

With the child nowhere in sight, investigators searched the balloon's path. Several people reported seeing something fall from the craft while it was in the air, and yellow crime-scene tape was placed around the home.

It was not clear why the boy's brother reported seeing Falcon getting into the balloon.

Kevin Kuretich, of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, said the craft had some kind of electric power unit which was run by double-C batteries. He said the balloon did seem to be big enough to carry a 6-year-old.

Jason Humbert saw the balloon land. He said he had gotten a call from his mother in Texas who told him about the balloon. He said he was in a field checking on an oil well when he found himself surrounded by police who had been chasing the balloon, which came to a rest 12 miles northeast of Denver International Airport.

'It looked like an alien spaceship you see in those old, old movies. You know, those black-and-white ones. I came down softly. I asked a police officer if the boy was OK and he said there was no one in it,' Humbert said.

Neighbor Bob Licko, 65, said he was leaving home when he heard commotion in the backyard of the family. He said he saw two boys on the roof with a camera, commenting about their brother.

'One of the boys yelled to me that his brother was way up in the air,' Licko said.

Licko said the boy's mother seemed distraught and that the boy's father was running around the house. The Poudre School District in Fort Collins, where the boys attend, did not have classes for elementary schools Thursday because of a teacher work day.