The Tarzan actor's wife, Gwen Lara, was the creator of a faith-based weight loss program.
In a tragic incident, seven people lost their lives after a small jet crashed into a Tennessee lake. Among those who are presumed dead are Remnant Fellowship Church founder and Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin Lara and her husband, actor Joe Lara, officials were quoted as saying by CNN. They were in the Cessna 501 when it crashed into Percy Priest Lake in Smyrna, a community near Nashville. The jet had taken off shortly from the Smyrna airport, officials said.
Gwen and her husband, William Joseph "Joe" Lara; her son-in-law, Brandon Hannah; and married couples Jennifer and David Martin, Jessica and Jonathan Walters, were on the flight, a spokesperson for the Rutherford County government said. The crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Gwen, 66, was not only the founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church, but she was also the author of The Weigh Down Diet, a faith-based weight loss program based on "helping people turn away from the love of food and toward a love of God," her website says. Lara, 58, used to play Tarzan in the TV series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures in the 1990s.
The jet was bound for Palm Beach, Florida, reports USA Today. Rutherford County Fire Rescue Capt. Joshua Sanders said on May 30, 2021, that recovery efforts were ongoing. "Our efforts have transitioned from a rescue effort to that of a recovery effort," he said earlier. "We are no longer ... looking for live victims at this point."
Human remains and debris from the plane were found on the lake by dive teams from local emergency agencies. "The debris field is approximately a half of a mile wide," said Rutherford County Fire Captain and Incident Commander John Ingle. Authorities were also flying drones for the recovery efforts.
The names of the seven people on the flight were released on the night of May 29. All of them were from Brentwood, Tennesee. The Federal Aviation Administration website said that none of them were qualified to fly the plane. Joe Lara, 58, had a pilot's license but his medical certification had not been updated since 2017. It is required every two years. According to the FAA database, Brandon Hannah, another church leader with a pilot license, didn't have a certification for the Cessna 500 series.
An alarm had gone off in the cockpit of the plane seconds before it crashed, as per a recording of the communication between the control tower and the pilot. The crash could have been due to a mechanical failure in the aircraft, which was built in 1982.
"The Shamblins, Hannahs, and Laras appreciate your concern, support, and prayers," the statement from the church said. "As has been reported by the media, some family members may have been involved in a plane accident this morning. ... The families will share details at the appropriate time. In the meantime, the families respectfully request prayers and privacy for all involved, please.”
"The seven Remnant Fellowship leaders lost May 29, 2021 were some of the finest and most loving people that you would ever come across. During this horrible tragedy, our church would greatly appreciate prayers," the church said, as per CNN.
Gwen, a registered dietician, has been promoting her faith-based diet since the last 1990s. In 1998, she told Larry King that it was God who led her to become a dietician.
"Gwen Shamblin Lara was one of the world's most kind, gentle, and selfless mother and wife, and a loyal, caring, supportive best friend to all. She lived every day laying down her own life to ensure that others could find a relationship with God," Remnant Fellowship Church said in its statement. "Her wonderful and supportive husband, Joe Lara, will also be greatly missed.
The church was founded in 1999 and has more than 1,500 members. Some people have called it a cult as well, as per USA Today.
Cover image source: (R) Getty Images; Photo by Kevin Winter | (L) IMDB