Tennessee authorities find human remains in plane crash that killed Christian diet guru

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Investigators have recovered human remains and components of an aircraft that crashed in a Tennessee lake Saturday morning with seven people on board, including a Christian diet guru and local church founder. 

Rutherford County Fire Rescue Capt. John Ingle said Sunday that recovery efforts were ongoing at Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna – about 25 miles southeast of Nashville – and that multiple agencies are assisting in the investigation. 

Left, Gwen Shamblin Lara, and rescue officials at Percy Priest Lake. 
(Facebook; Rutherford County Fire & Rescue)

Ingle said efforts were focused on examining a half-mile-wide debris field in the lake. He said drones are continuing over the debris and that airspace traffic has been restricted at the crash site. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is leading the investigation, which officials said can take one to two years to complete. 

Multiple agencies are assisting in the investigation. 
(Rutherford County Fire & Rescue)

County officials identified the victims late Saturday as Brandon Hannah, Gwen Shamblin Lara, her husband William J. Lara, David L. Martin, Jennifer J. Martin, Jessica Walters and Jonathan Walters – all of Brentwood, Tennessee. 

Gwen Shamblin Lara founded the Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood in 1999 and wrote a faith-based diet book. Her husband, known as Joe Lara, was an actor who portrayed Tarzan in the television series “Tarzan: The Epic Adventures” in the mid-90s.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the Cessna C501 plane was heading from nearby Smyrna Rutherford County Airport to Palm Beach International Airport when it crashed in Percy Priest Lake Saturday morning. 

Efforts are focused on a half-mile-wide debris field at Percy Priest Lake. 
(Rutherford County Fire & Rescue)

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

“With dive teams in the water, we are strongly urging civilian boaters to stay away from the public safety boats,” Ingle said. 

Investigators will remain on the scene until dark, Ingle said. Operations will resume Monday morning. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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