>> Michael Levenson and Jesus Jiménez, The New York Times
Published: 2021-05-31 20:38:53 BdST
The plane, a Cessna Citation 501, crashed into Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna, Tennessee, at about 11 a.m. local time, shortly after it had taken off from Smyrna Airport, south of Nashville.
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that seven people had been on board.
Ashley McDonald, a spokesperson for the Rutherford County government in Tennessee, identified those on board as William J. Lara, Gwen S. Lara, Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters and Brandon Hannah — all of Brentwood, Tennessee.
Before noon Sunday, crews found several parts of the plane as well as human remains in a debris field that was about a half-mile wide, officials said.
A search was expected to continue until nightfall Sunday and resume Monday.
William Lara, also known as Joe Lara, played Tarzan in the movie “Tarzan in Manhattan” and in the television series “Tarzan: The Epic Adventures,” according to the website IMDb.
He married Gwen Shamblin in 2018, according to the site.
Gwen Shamblin Lara was the leader of a Christian weight-loss group, Weigh Down Ministries, which she founded in 1986. In 1999, she founded the Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood. She and William Lara were members of its leadership team.
In a statement posted Sunday on the church’s website, the congregation said it appreciated prayers for the seven fellowship leaders who were lost in the crash.
“She lived every day laying down her own life to ensure that others could find a relationship with God,” the statement said, referring to Gwen Lara. “Because of that, her memory will definitely remain for a long time as she has a place in millions of people’s hearts around the world through her work with Weigh Down Ministries and Remnant Fellowship Church.”
At a news conference Saturday night, Capt. Joshua Sanders of Rutherford County Fire Rescue said that after searching the lake since 11 a.m., “we have transitioned from a rescue effort to a recovery effort.”
The crews on the scene were “no longer looking for live victims at this point,” Sanders said. “We are now recovering as much as we can from the crash site.”
The plane was headed to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida when it crashed.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it had sent two investigators to the crash site. A preliminary report on the crash is expected in about two weeks, the agency said, and a complete report, including the probable cause, could take up to two years.