Body of Griffin Prince found at Lake Lanier

The body of 13-year-old Griffin Prince was discovered early Wednesday evening after an arduous nine-day search in the murky depths of Lake Lanier.

Griffin and his 9-year-old brother, Jake, were killed June 18 when the pontoon boat driven by the boys' father, Mike Prince, was hit by a fishing boat.

Grandfather Mike Prince Sr. said, "It's wonderful they found him," but declined further comment until Thursday.

Griffin's body, found just as divers were wrapping up their search for the day, was not tangled up in the "underwater forest" that lies on the bottom of Lake Lanier, as originally feared.

"We were wrapping up," said Sgt Stephen Wilbanks of the Hall County Sheriff's Department.

FBI sonar equipment had indicated there was something under the water just before 6 p.m. very close to the crash site in what Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic called "one of the darkest areas of the lake." Griffin was recovered 113 feet under the surface.

Divers from Hall County and the FBI began the day literally climbing submerged trees as high as 60 feet.

"It's something we usually avoid," Wilbanks said Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, DNR investigators have already begun reconstructing the crash on land but have not yet decided whether to file additional charges against Paul Bennett, who was piloting the boat that collided with the Princes' boat. Col. Eddie Henderson, the agency's law enforcement chief, said it could take several weeks before a decision is made. Bennett, 44, has already been charged with boating under the influence and could face homicide charges, according to the DNR.

That investigation will proceed a bit quicker now that Griffin, a Boy Scout and dirt bike enthusiast, has been found. The recovery effort provided a challenge like few divers on Lanier had ever faced.

"It can get spooky down there," said Wilbanks, who was on the Hall County dive team for two years. "When you're at the bottom of the lake it's pitch black."

But divers were determined to persevere.

Thanks to cadaver dog teams, their search was narrowed to within 200 feet of the crash site, not far from Buford Dam.

Earlier Wednesday, Hall County authorities disclosed that divers had found items that investigators said offered hope that they were closer to finding Griffin's body.

It was their first break.

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