Plane carrying diet guru Gwen Lara, 6 others crashes into Tennessee lake
Emergency personnel stage at the Fate Sanders boat ramp on J. Percy Priest Lake to search for a small plane crash Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Smyrna, Tenn. (Photo: George Walker IV / The Tennessean)
Diet guru Gwen Lara and her husband, actor Joe Lara, are among seven people presumed dead after a small plane crashed into a Tennessee lake, authorities said.
The Cessna C501 was bound for Palm Beach, Florida, when it crashed on Percy Priest Lake about three miles from where the flight took off in Smyrna, Tennessee, authorities said.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol told news outlets that a witness saw the plane go into the water near a marina. Rutherford County Fire Rescue Capt. Joshua Sanders said there appeared to be no survivors.
“Our efforts have transitioned from a rescue effort to that of a recovery effort,” he said. “We are no longer … looking for live victims at this point.”
Gwen Lara, 66, was founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church and author of “The Weigh Down Diet,” a program based on “helping people turn away from the love of food and toward a love of God,” her website says.
Joe Lara, 58, briefly played Tarzan in the TV series “Tarzan: The Epic Adventures” in the 1990s.
The church issued as statement shortly after the crash.
“The Shamblins, Hannahs and Laras appreciate your concern, support and prayers,” the statement said. “As has been reported by the media, some family members may have been involved in a plane accident this morning. The families are awaiting details from the authorities. … The families will share details at the appropriate time. In the meantime, the families respectfully request prayers and privacy for all involved, please.”
Newchannel5 in Nashville reported that Gwen Lara’s daughter, Elizabeth Hannah, sent out a text to Remnant families asking for prayers. Hannah texted that the plane “had to go down for a controlled, quick landing.”
Newschanel5 quoted the text as saying that the Laras were on the plane, along with Remnant leaders David and Jennifer Martin, Jonathan and Jessica Walters and Elizabeth Hannah’s husband, Brandon.
Search and recovery efforts began shortly after the plane crashed. On Saturday night, the Rutherford County government confirmed the names of the seven people on board. In addition to the Laras, Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters and Brandon Hannah were all presumed dead, according to the Rutherford County news release.
All of them were from Brentwood, Tennesee, a suburban Nashville city of about 40,000.
Authorities said the 1982 Cessna plane left the Smyrna Airport at 10:53 a.m. Saturday. It crashed soon after takeoff, according to the news release. The National Transportation Safety Board was leading the investigation.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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