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Trial date set for man in June boat wreck
2 Buford boys killed in incident on Lake Lanier
0804boatwreck-paul bennett
Paul Bennett

A tentative trial date has been set for Paul J. Bennett, charged with homicide in a June 18 boat collision that killed two boys.

Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh said the trial was tentatively set for May 20 and the next motions hearing is set for Jan. 31.

The dates were set during a conference call Friday between the DA’s office, Judge Kathlene Gosselin and Bennett’s attorney, Barry Zimmerman of Zimmerman & Associates of Norcross. Zimmerman could not be reached for comment after 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Bennett, 44, is charged with eight counts of homicide by vessel, boating under the influence, failing to render aid and reckless operation of a vessel.

He was indicted in early August on the charges and has been free on bond.

The collision killed Jake Prince, 9, and his brother, Griffin Prince, 13, both of Buford. Law enforcement agencies from across the state spent more than a week searching for Griffin, whose body was found in 113 feet of water.

The two boys had been riding in a pontoon boat operated by their father, Michael Prince, with several others when Bennett’s boat struck the pontoon.

The wreck and another later in the summer that killed a young boy have created increased interest in lake safety issues.

A Lake Lanier Legislative Caucus was formed earlier this year to discuss lake safety and other lake issues. The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted in July to establish a Lake Lanier safety panel. The Lake Lanier Association also has put more emphasis on educating lake users about safety.

State House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, has said he will introduce legislation to lower the legal alcohol limit for boaters, making it the same as the limit for operating vehicles on roads. There also has been talk of whether to require boaters to take safety classes or obtain a special license.