(CNN) — Seven people are believed to have been killed in a small plane crash on a Tennessee lake Saturday, including Remnant Fellowship Church founder and Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin Lara, authorities said.
The Cessna 501 plane was carrying seven people when it crashed into Percy Priest Lake in Smyrna, a community near Nashville, shortly after taking off from the Smyrna airport, according to authorities.
On board were Lara; her husband, William J. Lara; his son-in-law, Brandon Hannah; and married couples Jennifer and David Martin, and Jessica and Jonathan Walters, a Rutherford County government spokesman said in a news release.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the accident.
In a statement sent to CNN, Remnant Fellowship Church paid tribute to those on board the plane.
“The seven Remnant Fellowship leaders lost on May 29, 2021, were some of the most beautiful and loving people you have ever come across. During this horrible tragedy, our church would greatly appreciate your prayers, ”the church said.
Gwen Shamblin Lara was the founder and spiritual leader of Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood, south of Nashville. Her husband, who called himself Joe Lara, was an actor best known for playing the title role in the television series “Tarzan: The Epic Adventures,” which aired between 1996 and 1997.
As a registered dietitian, Gwen Shamblin Lara created Weigh Down Diet, which encouraged dieters to strengthen their faith in God to lose weight. In 1998, Lara told CNN’s Larry King that she believed God had led her to become a dietitian.
“Gwen Shamblin Lara was one of the kindest, gentlest, and most selfless mothers and wives in the world, and a loyal, caring, and caring best friend to all. He lived every day giving his own life to ensure that others could find a relationship with God, “Remnant Fellowship Church said in its statement. “Her wonderful and understanding husband, Joe Lara, will also be greatly missed.”
Elizabeth Hannah, daughter of Gwen Shamblin Lara and wife of Brandon Hannah, recalled her mother and husband in a statement released by the county.
“The seven Remnant Fellowship leaders lost yesterday, including my husband and mother, were some of the most beautiful, just and loving people I have ever met,” said Elizabeth Hannah. “I want everyone to know that my mother, Gwen Shamblin Lara, was the kindest, kindest, most selfless and loving mother and the best friend to me and my brother. His actions and words changed thousands of lives for the better and his message of ‘Love GOD with ALL your heart’ will live forever and ever and continue to change lives for all eternity. My loving husband, Brandon Hannah, took this message of love for God first and he truly was one of the most selfless and loving husbands and fathers on the planet. “
Michael Shamblin, son of Gwen Shamblin Lara, thanked all the first responders and law enforcement personnel who worked at the accident site.
“My family is only asking for prayers at this time and we hope that all those affected, especially the children of the other passengers, know that they are very loved and we hope to be able to attend to their needs in a special way in these coming years,” he said in the statement.
The Walters and Martins joined the church in the late 1990s, according to the church’s website. Hannah helped oversee the church’s youth group, according to the site.
The church said they were all Remnant Fellowship leaders and “very involved in the community and loved by many.”
CNN is trying to reach family members of those who died in the accident for comment.
The plane was heading to Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport when it crashed, said Ashley McDonald, a spokeswoman for Rutherford County.
The aircraft was registered to JL & GL Productions LP, located in Bradwell, Tennessee, according to a Federal Aviation Administration registry. JL & GL Productions LP was owned by Gwen Shamblin Lara, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website.
Dive teams have recovered various components of the plane and human remains from the lake, authorities said Sunday.
Operations at the crash site were halted Sunday night and investigation and recovery efforts will resume Monday morning, a county government news release said Sunday night.
“On behalf of all agencies that have responded to or contributed to this incident in any way, we extend our sincerest condolences to the families and friends affected by this tragedy,” Rutherford County Fire Capt.Joshua Sanders said at the release. “We are committed to working with our federal partners to do everything possible to bring closure to those affected by this incident.”
CNN’s Jason Hanna and Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism