SMYRNA, Tenn. (WTVF) — A small airplane crashed in the water on Percy Priest Lake in Smyrna Saturday morning, killing seven people, according to church officials.
Officials, with the permission of the passengers' families, released the names of the people on board.
William J. (Joe) Lara, Gwen Shamblin Lara, Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters, and Brandon Hannah were all on board, according to a Remnant Fellowship church statement, of which they were all leaders of.
Elizabeth Hannah (pictured above) was not on board.
Several law enforcement and emergency agencies responded to the crash around 11 a.m. According to Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP), the airplane was spotted going into the water on the lake near the Fate Sanders boat ramp.
Authorities located a debris field near the last sighting of a Cessna C501 registered to JL&GL Productions LP, which is a partnership formed by Brentwood-based Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin Lara and her husband Joe.
Gwen Shamblin Lara's daughter, Elizabeth Hannah, sent out a text to Remnant families asking for prayers, saying the plane "had to go down for a controlled, quick landing."
NewsChannel 5 stopped by the church on Franklin Road in the early stages of the crash response, the Remnant Fellowship, church leader Joe Langsdon refused to comment and insisted that the reporter leave church property.
On Sunday, the church released the following statement on its website:
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.
We want everyone who was affected, especially the children of the passengers, to know that they are very loved and our church will be taking special care of the children’s needs in these coming years.
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. 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. Her wonderful and supportive husband, Joe Lara, will also be greatly missed.
The other passengers who perished in the crash were Remnant Fellowship leaders who were very involved in the community and loved by many – David and Jennifer Martin, Jonathan and Jessica Walters, and Brandon Hannah.
On behalf of Remnant Fellowship Church, we would like to thank the First Responders and all who have helped our church and these families during this difficult time.
Finally, as far as Remnant Fellowship Church and Weigh Down Ministries are concerned, Michael Shamblin and Elizabeth Shamblin Hannah, Gwen’s two children, and the church leadership intend to continue the dream that Gwen Shamblin Lara had of helping people find a relationship with God.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says the Cessna C501 had departed from the Smyrna Rutherford County Airport at 11 a.m.
The Rutherford County Sheriff's Office and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are on scene investigating. THP road units are assisting in the investigation. THP's aviation unit will also be responding. Federal agencies investigating the crash include the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.
On-scene operations remained active until nightfall Sunday, and plan to resume operations again Monday morning.