Tennessee Plane Crash: Gwen Shamblin and 6 Others Presumed Dead

Gwen Shamblin Lara, who led a Christian weight-loss group, and her husband, Joe, who played Tarzan in a television series, were on the plane, which crashed near Smyrna, Tenn., on Saturday.,


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All seven people aboard a small plane were presumed dead after it crashed shortly after takeoff into a lake outside Nashville on Saturday, the authorities said.

The plane, a Cessna Citation 501, crashed into Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna, Tenn., at about 11 a.m. local time, shortly after it had taken off from Smyrna Airport, south of Nashville.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that seven people had been on board.

Ashley McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Rutherford County government in Tennessee, identified those on board as William J. Lara, Gwen S. Lara, Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters and Brandon Hannah, all of Brentwood, Tenn.

Before noon on Sunday, crews found several parts of the plane as well as human remains in a debris field that was about half a mile wide, officials said.

A search was expected to continue until nightfall on Sunday and resume on Monday.

William Lara, also known as Joe Lara, played Tarzan in the movie “Tarzan in Manhattan” and in the television series “Tarzan: The Epic Adventures,” according to the website IMDb.

He married Gwen Shamblin in 2018, according to the site.

Gwen Shamblin Lara was the leader of a Christian weight-loss group, Weigh Down Ministries, which she founded in 1986. In 1999, she founded the Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood, Tenn. She and Mr. Lara were members of its leadership team.

The church did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

At a news conference on Saturday night, Capt. Joshua Sanders of Rutherford County Fire Rescue said that after searching the lake since 11 a.m., “we have transitioned from a rescue effort to a recovery effort.”

The crews at the scene were “no longer looking for live victims at this point,” Captain Sanders said. “We are now recovering as much as we can from the crash site.”

The plane was headed to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida when it crashed.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it had sent two investigators to the crash site. A preliminary report on the crash is expected in about two weeks, the agency said, and a complete report, including the probable cause, could take up to two years.

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