Best of 2009

12 Most Shocking Moments of 2009

Michael Jackson's death, the Hudson River miracle crash, the Balloon Boy hoax and more of the year's jaw-dropping stories


When a silver balloon lifted off in Ft. Collins, Colo., on Oct. 15 reportedly carrying 6-year-old Falcon Heene, the quest to save him made for gripping live TV. But the real drama would come later: The boy, a son of a thrill-seeking reality show couple, was never onboard; he was in his family's attic. Parents Richard and Mayumi Heene initially said the incident wasn't a stunt, but after a federal investigation, Mayumi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor – for false reporting to authorities. Then on Nov. 13, her husband pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant.