7 victims of Percy Priest Lake plane crash formally identified

Jun 03, 2021 at 02:30 pm by Voice Wire


On Monday, May 31, local public safety officials, the Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, and other recovery partners continued the active investigation into the Saturday, May 29 crash of a private plane containing Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin Lara and the leadership of Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood.

On Thursday afternoon, June 3, Rutherford County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Lara was on board with her husband William J. Lara, along with Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters, and Brandon Hannah all of Brentwood, Tennessee were on board the flight.

The plane originally left Smyrna airport just before 11 a.m. heading to Palm Beach International. The 1982 Cessna 501 went down shortly after take off, crashing into Percy Priest Lake.

After two days of recovery efforts, crews were able to locate both of the engines and a significant portion of the jet's fuselage. The items were recovered from the lake and transported with the assistance of a crane and barge.

Additionally, more human remains were recovered, and Rutherford County Medical Examiner's Office can now confidently verify that there are seven individuals, four males and three females.

Rutherford County Medical Examiner's Office, working in partnership with Middle Tennessee Regional Forensic Center, are working with the victims' families to identify those human remains biologically and scientifically.

During the afternoon hours, crews discovered that because of several possible factors including but not limited to weather and boat traffic, the initial debris field was expanded. They are actively performing dive operations to locate and retrieve other debris from the crash. On scene operations are likely to continue Tuesday.

The Lamar Boat ramp and waterway will reopen Tuesday. Fate Sanders Recreation Area will remain closed until further notice.

“I cannot say enough about the teamwork of all agencies represented from our local public safety agencies to our federal partners,” Rutherford County Public Safety Director Chris Clark said. “Our teams are all committed to doing absolutely everything we can to bring closure during this very tragic situation.”

According to NTSB officials, the preliminary investigation could take up to 14 days, and the entire investigation could take up to 18-24 months.

“We release information in a very specific format at specific times,” said NTSB media relations representative Eric Weiss. “Water recoveries are more difficult, so patience is appreciated as it may take some time to release updates.”

Inquiries regarding the NTSB investigation should be addressed to Eric.weiss@ntsb.gov or 202-324-6100.

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