Centralia Man Awaiting Preliminary Hearing in Deadly Labor Day Jet-ski Accident at Lake Benton

BENTON – A Centralia man is awaiting his Sept. 18 preliminary hearing on three felony charges in connection with the death of a former Mt. Vernon school teacher while the two were riding a jet-ski over Labor Day weekend.

Thirty-six-year-old Robert L. Hanselman is currently in the Franklin County Jail on $500,000 bond for two counts of operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol resulting in death; both Class 2 felonies, as well as the Class 4 felony charge of aggravated reckless operation of a watercraft.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is investigating the death of 73-year-old Gary D. Graham of Benton while he was a passenger on the jet-ski that wrecked on Sunday, Sept. 1.

Initial reports from the IDNR state the two men were riding together on the jet-ski while at Lake Benton. Hanselman, the driver, allegedly made a quick u-turn causing both men to be ejected into the water. Hanselman says he swam after the still running vehicle and Graham tried to swim towards the boat dock but went under and never surfaced. Neither man was wearing a life vest.

A Class 2 felony charge carries a possible seven to 10 years, while a Class 4 felony has a possible two to four-year sentence if convicted.