Church diet guru, Tarzan star among seven killed in plane crash

·2-min read

A church diet guru is believed to have died in a horrific plane crash that no one on board survived. 

A small jet carrying seven people crashed into a lake in the US state of Tennessee on Saturday (local time) and authorities indicated all those on board were killed.

The Cessna C501 crashed into Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna after taking off from a nearby airport about 11am (local time), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement.

Joe and Gwen Lara are pictured. Both are presumed dead after a light plane crashed into Percy Priest Lake.
Joe and Gwen Lara are both presumed dead after a plane crashed into a lake. Source:

Rutherford County rescue crews were still at the scene of the crash late on Saturday and planned to work through the night, Rutherford County Fire Rescue Captain Joshua Sanders said at a news conference. 

“Our efforts have transitioned from a rescue effort to that of a recovery effort... We are no longer... looking for live victims at this point,” Capt Sanders said.

County officials identified the seven killed in a news release late on Saturday. 

Brandon Hannah, Gwen S. Lara, William (Joe) Lara, David L. Martin, Jennifer J. Martin, Jessica Walters and Jonathan Walters – all of Brentwood in Tennessee – were presumed dead. Their names were released after family members had been notified.

Ms Lara is the founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church and Christian diet program The Weigh Down.

Her husband, Joe, portrayed the titular character in the "Tarzan: The Epic Adventures" TV series in the 1990s.

Witness saw plane crash into water at popular spot

Ms Lara's daughter Elizabeth Hannah had texted members of the church asking them to pray as the plane "had to go down for a controlled, quick landing", US news station WTVF reported.

The text message added on the plane with Ms Lara was the guru's husband William and Remnant leaders David and Jennifer Martin. 

Brandon was also identified as Ms Hannah's husband. 

Earlier on Saturday, officials confirmed search crews had found debris and identified parts of the airplane in the lake. 

Two boats and search officials at Percy Priest Lake following the plane crash.
Search officials at the Percy Priest Lake where the plane crashed. Source: WTVF

Capt Sanders said the crash appeared to have taken place entirely in the lake.

Authorities also did not release registration information for the plane, which was heading from Smyrna Rutherford County Airport to Palm Beach International Airport.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol told news outlets a witness saw the plane go into the water near a marina.

The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA both had investigators at the scene.

Smyrna is located about 32 kilometres southeast of Nashville. 

Percy Priest Lake is a reservoir created by the J. Percy Priest Dam. It is a popular spot for boating and fishing.

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