Richard Heene, the father of the six-year-old mistakenly believed to have floated off to his doom in a helium balloon Thursday, told Good Morning America on Friday that rumors the incident was a publicity-driven ruse are "extremely pathetic." During the appearance, the young boy Falcon had to run off-camera to vomit several times.
Watch The Family Keep A United Front In The Video Above
"We were holding on to every second, every second, just hoping he might come out okay," Richard said. The family explained that Falcon’s vomiting is a side-effect of his asthma (a concerned Diane Sawyer suggested the boy's mother Mayumi accompany him).
Richard, a former weatherman, continued defending the family's innocence in the incident after doubts were raised following a Thursday night appearance with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. When Blitzer asked Falcon why he didn't come out from his family's garage (where he was during the harrowing ordeal) while they searched for him, Falcon turned to his father and said to him, "You had said that we did this for a show."
Blitzer followed up on the awkward moment later in the program, asking the boy to explain the "show" comment, to the dismay of the boy's father, Richard. Heene got defensive immediately: "I think I can see the direction you guys are hedging on this ... and I'm kind of appalled, after all of the feelings that I went through, up and down, that you guys are trying to suggest something else. Blitzer backpedaled from the insinuation, but the seed of doubt had been cast.
Heene explained Falcon’s comments on Friday, saying the boy was referring to his having to reenact the incident for cameras.
A worldwide audience watched as the homemade helium balloon soared 7,000 feet over eastern Colorado for just under two hours; it was revealed during the dramatic incident that the boy's family had gained fame on the ABC reality show Wife Swap. The family has been making the media rounds since the incident occurred.
"I'm not selling anything,” Richard said. “This is what we do all the time. I don't have a can of beans to sell. This is just another day in the life of what we do."