Seven people were reported dead on Saturday, May 21, in a fatal jet fuel accident that crashed into a Tennessee lake. The victims reported were Gwen Shablin Lara (fitness guru/Remnant Fellowship Church Founder), her husband Joe Lara (lead actor for “Tarzan: The Epic Adventures”), William J. Lara, Brandon Hannah, couples Jennifer and David Martin, and Jessica and Jonathan Walters.
The group was traveling to a Women Fighting For America event in Stuart, Florida, according to the organization’s founder. “We have lost a true patriot and a woman who loved God and everybody around her,” said Christie Hutcherson, founder of Women Fighting for America. “She was extremely generous and loving and caring.”
The plane crashed shortly around 11 a.m. after taking off from Smyrna Airport headed from Palm Beach International Airport Rutherford County Public Information Officer Ashley McDonald said at a briefing. According to Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac, the Cessna C501 crashed in Percy Priest Lake in Smyrna, Tennessee.
Rutherford County Fire Rescue Capt. Joshua Sanders spoke about the incident at a press briefing Saturday night. “We are no longer in an attempt to look for live victims. At this point, so we’re now recovering as much as we can from the crash site,” Sanders said.
Sanders spoke about the effect the incident is having on the family and loved ones of the victims.
“I think the situation itself is probably the most difficult part; dealing with the potential impact that this has on family and the community at large,” Sanders said. “Our crews are working very hard, very diligently, all the agencies are working really well together.”
Lara was a registered dietitian who created the Weigh Down Diet, which encourages dieters to strengthen their relationship with God and lose weight. In a statement sent to CNN, Remnant Fellowship Church, the church she founded in 1999, paid tribute to those who were on the plane flight.
“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 statement read. “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. Her wonderful and supportive husband, Joe Lara, will also be greatly missed.”
Elizabeth Hannah, Gwen Shamblin Lara’s daughter and the wife of Brandon Hannah, also remembered her mother and husband in a statement.
“The seven Remnant Fellowship Leaders lost yesterday, including my husband and my mother, were some of the finest, most righteous, and loving people I have ever known,” Elizabeth Hannah said. “I want the entire world to know that my mother, Gwen Shamblin Lara, was the kindest, most gentle, selfless, loving mother and best friend to me and my brother…My beloved husband, Brandon Hannah, took on this message of love for God first — and he truly was one of the most selfless and loving spouses and fathers on the planet.”
Michael Shamblin, Gwen Shamblin Lara’s son, thanked all the first responders and law enforcement who worked at the crash site.
“My family is just asking for prayers at this time and we hope everyone who was affected, especially the children of the other passengers, know that they are very loved and we hope to take special care of their needs in these coming years.”