Updated:LUMPKIN COUNTY, Ga. —
Hundreds of motorcyclists, joined by law enforcement officers, rode Saturday in honor of two brothers killed in a boat crash on Lake Lanier.
The 72-mile memorial ride began in Lumpkin County and goes around Lake Lanier. All proceeds will benefit the Jake and Griffin Prince Memorial Fund.
The boys’ father, who joined the ride with his surviving son, was too emotional to go on camera but said the event’s turnout meant the world to him. The boys’ grandfather said since the crash, his family has received an outpouring of support from the community.
“Our hearts are filled with gratitude,” Gary Hansen told Channel 2’s Ashley Swann.
The Prince brothers were among 12 people on a pontoon boat hit by another boat in June. Investigators said 9-year-old Jake Prince was killed instantly in the collision. His 13-year-old brother, Griffin, also went overboard that night. It took nine days for dive crews to recover his body. Five others were injured.
Hansen said his family is now pushing for better safety enforcement on Georgia’s waterways.
“We hope there will be a greater level of awareness, that people will change their habits, perhaps use a little less alcohol, do some things a little bit differently,” Hansen said.
The driver of the boat, Paul Bennett, faces a 13-count felony indictment in connection with the crash. His charges include first-degree homicide by vessel, boating under the influence and refusing to render aid.
Hansen wouldn’t specifically comment on Bennett’s charges Saturday, but family members previously said Bennett bought his boat from the Prince family’s boat shop years ago.
Hansen said his grandsons would have wanted attendees of the memorial event to celebrate their lives.
“We're sure that Griffin and Jake would be the first to say, ‘Have a good time. Enjoy yourselves, but love your families a little bit more. Hug your kids a little bit more. Take advantage of it," Hansen said.
Donations to the Jake & Griffin Prince Memorial Fund can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank location. A memorial Facebook page has also been set up in their honor.