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Man Indicted in Fatal Lake Lanier Collision

Paul Bennett of Cumming was involved in a deadly boating incident that resulted in the deaths of brothers Griffin and Jake Prince of Gwinnett.

Cumming resident Paul J. Bennett, 44, has been indicted by a Hall County grand jury. He is the operator of a fishing boat that struck a pontoon boat in June on Lake Lanier, killing two Gwinnett siblings, 9-year-old Jake Prince and his brother Griffin, 13.

Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh spoke with Patch and said Bennett was arraigned Thursday afternoon for:

  • eight counts of homicide by vessel in the first degree (four counts for each of the two Prince boys),
  • two counts of boating under the influence,
  • two counts of reckless operation of a vessel,
  • and one count of violation of duty to render assistance and identify vessel and self.

As for what happens next to Bennett, Darragh said, "Obviously he is scheduled for later hearings, but beyond that I don't have any other information for you."

The tragic incident happened the evening of June 18 in the Shoal Creek area of Lake Lanier, near Lake Lanier Islands.

Four families -- 13 people in all, with nine children -- were on the vessel, owned by the Prince family, when the crash occurred around 10:30 p.m., officials said. Bennett fled after the crash and was arrested later.

According to investigators, Bennett left the scene of the crash. A DNR ranger responding to the accident saw the boat he was operating as it entered . Investigators later returned to the marina and found the boat.

DNR officials arrested Bennett at about 1:30 a.m. at the marina. A woman riding in the boat with Bennett at the time of the collision was not arrested.

The Prince family owns and operates The Grass Shack, a boat retailer and storage facility in Buford. "When you buy a boat from Grass Shack you will deal with the owner Mike Prince personally or one of his sons," the website reads.

The body of Griffin Prince was discovered by divers after a nine-day search of murky lake waters. The brothers' funeral was in Suwanee in July.

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