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Suspect in fatal boating wreck charged with homicide
Bennett faces 8 counts of homicide from June 18 accident on Lake Lanier; hearing moved to Monday
0805BOAT.Paul Bennett
Paul J. Bennett

The man operating the boat that struck another vessel June 18 on Lake Lanier, killing two boys, has been indicted on several charges, including eight counts of homicide by vessel in the first degree.

According to the bill of indictment by the Hall County grand jury, Paul J. Bennett, 44, of Cumming, has been charged with eight counts of homicide by vessel in the first degree, two counts of boating under the influence of alcohol, two counts of reckless operation of a vessel and violation of duty to render assistance and identity vessel and self.

No date has been set for an arraignment, according to Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh.

Darragh did not comment further on the case.

No bond has been set for Bennett, according to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. His first court appearance was originally scheduled for Saturday but later rescheduled for Monday.

The Hall County Clerk of Courts office said Bennett is represented by attorney Barry Zimmerman of Zimmerman & Associates out of Norcross.

A call to Zimmerman’s voicemail said he is out of the country until Aug. 14.

Bennett was piloting a 21- to 22-foot fishing boat when it collided “basically head-on” with a pontoon boat carrying 13-year-old Griffin Prince and his 9-year-old brother, Jake, according to law enforcement officials.

Both boys died as a result.

Rescue teams searched for Griffin’s body for more than a week before discovering the teen in 113 feet of water.

The pontoon boat driven by the victims’ father, Michael Prince, was carrying four adults and nine children late in the evening.

The accident occurred in the Shoal Creek area of the lake near Buford Dam.