Divers recover body of Griffin Prince from Lake Lanier



HALL COUNTY, Ga. - After nine days of intense searching, dive crews were finally able to recover the body of 13-year-old Griffin Prince.

Hall County authorities said a drunken boater slammed into Griffin's family's pontoon boat near Buford Dam at Shoal Creek on June 18, killing his 9-year-old brother, Jake Prince, instantly.

Griffin went overboard.

Crews had been searching since 7 a.m. Wednesday.

In a late-day news conference, investigators said they had recovered several items from the water in the area where the crash had happened.

Channel 2 Action News confirmed with sources that about 6 p.m. Wednesday, dive teams recovered the body of Griffin. Investigators held a news conference at 8 p.m. where they announced Griffin's body had been found.

"We do hope the recovery of Griffin helps them put some closure on this tragic event at this time," Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic said. "It's so important to have that closure, and all of our guys understand that. So many of us have children of our own."

Divers from the Hall County Sheriff's Office and the FBI recovered the body from an area where they were conducting their most dangerous dives yet.

Dive crews said he was found in about 113 feet down in the water.

"The depths ranged as much as close to 140 feet. There's forest under there, and they were literally climbing trees, trying to locate Griffin," Cronic said.

The sheriff said divers faced extreme conditions once in the water, but they vowed not to give up until Griffin was found.

Paul Bennett, 44, was driving the boat that struck the Griffin family's pontoon boat the evening of June 18.

Bennett has since been charged with boating under the influence.

Records show  Bennett owns Paul Bennett Studios, a hair salon in Johns Creek, and lived in a home in Cumming, though neighbors told Channel 2's Richard Elliot that 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.

It was originally reported that Bennett had quickly fled the scene of the wreck when it happened, but witnesses said that wasn’t the case.

A memorial fund has been set up for the Prince children. If you would like to help, you can make a donation to the Jake & Griffin Prince Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank location. The account number for the fund is 7581668121.

A memorial Facebook page has also been set up in honor of the two boys.

A Griffin and Jake Prince Memorial Fund has also been set up to help the family with burial and funeral expenses. Donations can now be made via PayPal to the address GriffinAndJakePrince@gmail.com.