Boat driver in Lanier crash charged with homicide

Updated:

HALL COUNTY, Ga. —

Hall County authorities have upgraded the charges against the boat driver in a fatal crash on Lake Lanier.

Paul Bennett, 44, faces a 13-count felony indictment in connection with the June crash. He was driving a boat that crashed into a pontoon boat carrying 12 people. Five people were injured in the crash and two young brothers were killed.

Bennett’s charges include first-degree homicide by vessel, boating under the influence and refusing to render aid.

Investigators said 9-year-old Jake Prince was killed instantly in the collision. His 13-year-old brother, Griffin, also went overboard that night but it took nine days for dive crews to recover his body.

The Prince family owns the Grass Shack Boat Rental shop along Lanier Island Parkway, and the boys’ grandparents revealed that they sold Bennett his boat years ago.

Records show Bennett owns Paul Bennett Studios, a hair salon in Johns Creek, and lived in a home in Cumming, though neighbors said he and his wife and daughter had recently moved out of the home.

They said Bennett was living on a boat at Bald Ridge Marina, the same marina where DNR rangers arrested him June 19. He bonded out of jail shortly after that arrest, and he surrendered to authorities around 3 p.m. Friday.

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