‘Tarzan’ Actor and 6 Others Presumed Dead in Plane Crash Near Nashville

Seven people are presumed to have died in a crash of a Cessna C501 plane into Percy Priest Lake in Tennessee at around 11:00 local time (17:00 GMT) on Saturday. The Cessna C501 crashed a few minutes after taking off from the Smyrna airport en route to Palm Beach, officials said.

US actor Joe Lara, 58-year-old, best known for playing Tarzan, is one of the passengers presumed dead, along with his wife, a dietician, and Christian diet guru, Gwen Shamblin Lara. The latter founded a weight-loss church called Remnant Fellowship Church.

Also on board were Gwen Lara’s son-in-law, Brandon Hannah, married couples Jennifer and David Martin, Jessica and Jonathan Walters, said the spokesperson for the Rutherford County government in a news release.

The rescue workers shifted their operations from rescue to recovery as there appeared to be no survivors by Saturday night.

Dive teams had recovered several components of the aircraft and human remains in a debris field about half a mile wide, officials said Sunday.

Joe Lara played the lead role in the 1989 TV movie Tarzan in Manhattan, then in the follow-up TV series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures. He left acting in 2002 and pursued a career in country music.

His wife, Gwen, 66, was the leader of a Christian weight-loss group that she launched in 1986. She also wrote a best-selling faith-based weight-loss book, urging people to “turn away from the love of food and towards the love of God.”  

In a statement to the media, Remnant Fellowship Church paid tribute to those on board the plane.

“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 church said.

According to official records of the Federal Aviation Administration registry, the aircraft was registered to JL & GL Productions LP, located in Bradwell, Tennessee. On the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website, JL & GL Productions LP was owned by Gwen Shamblin Lara.