In June, 9-year-old Jake Prince and his brother, 13-year-old Griffin Prince, were killed when a drunk boater slammed his fishing boat into the pontoon boat carrying the boys. Now, over seven weeks after the incident, the driver of the fishing boat has been arrested and charged with homicide by vessel in the first degree, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Paul J. Bennett was initially only charged with BUI for the incident. However, following the Department of Natural Resources’ investigation of the accident, Bennett was charged with the much more serious crime of homicide by vessel.
Four families were on the pontoon boat on Lake Lanier when Bennett’s fishing boat allegedly struck it. All 13 people on the pontoon boat were thrown into the water and had to be pulled out by firefighters, according to authorities.
Jake died at the scene of the accident. Authorities arrested Bennett the day after the crash, charging him with BUI. After 10 days of searching, divers found Griffin’s body 115 feet below the surface of the lake.
Under the Georgia Boat Safety Act, it’s illegal for anyone 21 years or older to operate a boat with a blood alcohol concentration of .10 percent or higher. If you’re under 21, it’s illegal for you to operate a boat with a BAC of .02 percent or higher. A BUI conviction is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to a year in prison.
On top of the BUI charge, Bennett now faces first-degree homicide by vessel charges. If you kill someone while BUI or if you leave the scene of a fatal boating accident you caused, you can be charged with first-degree homicide by vessel in Georgia. If Bennett is convicted of his homicide by vessel charges he could face 3 to 15 years in prison.
Jake and Griffin Prince’s joint funeral was held on July 3 in Suwanee. Since the tragedy, Georgia law enforcement has stepped up enforcement of the state’s BUI laws.
- Call and Atlanta DUI Attorney (FindLaw)
- Boater Charged in Fatal Lake Lanier Crash Waives Court Hearing (CBS News)
- Boating Under the Influence FAQs (FindLaw)
- Man Charged with BUI for Fatal Boating Accident on Lake Lanier (FindLaw’s Atlanta DUI Law Blog)