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Joe Lara and Gwen Shamblin Lara among 7 presumed dead in plane crash in Tennessee

The Cessna 501 was carrying seven people when it crashed into Percy Priest Lake in Smyrna, a community near Nashville, shortly after taking off from Smyrna Airport, officials said.

On board was Lara; her husband, William J. Lara; his son-in-law, Brandon Hannah; and married couples Jennifer and David Martin, and Jessica and Jonathan Walters, a Rutherford County government spokesperson said in a press release.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the accident.

In a statement sent to CNN, Remnant Fellowship Church paid tribute to those on board the plane.

“The seven Remnant Fellowship leaders lost on May 29, 2021 were some of the nicest and most loving people you have ever met. During this horrific tragedy, our church would greatly appreciate prayers,” the church said. .

Gwen Shamblin Lara was the founder and spiritual leader of Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood, south of Nashville. Her husband, who was named Joe Lara, was an actor known for playing the lead role in the “Tarzan: The Epic Adventures” television series, which ran from 1996 to 1997.
Registered Dietitian Gwen Shamblin Lara created the Weigh Down Diet, which encourages dieters to strengthen their faith in God to lose weight. In 1998, Lara told CNN’s Larry King that she believed God had led her to become a dietitian.

“Gwen Shamblin Lara was one of the kindest, sweetest, and selfless mothers and wives in the world, and a loyal, caring and supportive best friend to all. She lived every day sacrificing her own life to ensure that others may find a relationship with God, ”Remnant Fellowship Church said in its statement. “Her wonderful and supportive husband, Joe Lara, will also be dearly missed.”

Elizabeth Hannah, daughter of Gwen Shamblin Lara and wife of Brandon Hannah, remembered her mother and husband in a statement released by the county.

“The seven Remnant Fellowship leaders lost yesterday, including my husband and mother, were some of the nicest, fairest and most loving people I have ever known,” said Elizabeth Hannah. “I want the whole world to know that my mother, Gwen Shamblin Lara, was the kindest, sweetest, most selfless, loving and best friend to me and my brother. Her actions and words have gone down well. changed thousands of lives for the better – and his message “Love GOD with ALL your heart” – will live on forever and ever – and will continue to change lives for eternity. My beloved husband, Brandon Hannah, has d first took this message of love for God – and he was truly one of the most selfless and loving spouses and fathers on the planet. “

Michael Shamblin, son of Gwen Shamblin Lara, thanked all first responders and law enforcement who worked at the crash site.

“My family is only asking for prayers at this time and we hope that all who have been affected, especially the children of other passengers, know that they are dearly loved and we hope to take special care of their needs in the years to come. come, ”he said. in the statement.

The Walters and Martins joined the church in the late 1990s, according to the church’s website. Hannah helped supervise the church’s youth group, according to the site.

The church said they were all leaders of the Remnant Fellowship “who were very involved in the community and loved by many”.

CNN is trying to reach relatives of those who died in the crash for comment.

The plane was bound for Palm Beach International Airport in Florida when it crashed, said Ashley McDonald, spokesperson for Rutherford County.

The aircraft was registered to JL & GL Productions LP, located in Bradwell, Tennessee, according to a Federal Aviation Administration register. JL & GL Productions LP was owned by Gwen Shamblin Lara, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website.

Rutherford County firefighters were among the agencies that responded to the crash scene on Saturday.

Dive teams recovered several parts of the plane and human remains from the lake, officials said on Sunday.

The debris field is about half a mile wide, said Rutherford County Fire Captain John Ingle.

Operations at the crash site halted Sunday evening and recovery and investigation efforts will resume Monday morning, a county government statement said on Sunday evening.

“On behalf of all agencies that have responded or contributed to this incident in any way, we extend our sincere condolences to the families and friends affected by this tragedy,” said Rutherford County Fire Captain Joshua Sanders , in the press release. “We are committed to working with our federal partners to do everything possible to end those affected by this incident. “

CNN’s Jason Hanna and Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.

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