SMYRNA, TN (WSMV) - Dive teams from several agencies have recovered several components of an airplane that crashed into Percy Priest Lake as well as human remains, Rutherford County EMA officials said on Sunday afternoon.

Dive teams from Rutherford County Fire Rescue, Metro Nashville Office of Emergency Management, Metro Nashville Police Department and Wilson County Emergency Management have been searching a debris field in Percy Priest Lake between the Weakley Lane bridge and Lamar Hill boat ramp since the crash occurred just after 11 a.m. Saturday.

“The debris field is approximately a half of a mile wide,” said Rutherford County Fire Rescue Captain and Incident Commander John Ingle in a news release.

Multiple agencies remain on the scene of the crash.

Plane recovery in Percy Priest Lake

Dive team members from multiple agencies including Rutherford County Fire Rescue, Metro Nashville Office of Emergency Management, Metro Nashville Police Department, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Wilson County Emergency Management Agency work to recover the remains of a small jet that crashed into Percy Priest Lake Saturday morning.

Drone operations continue over the debris field and airspace traffic has been restricted at the crash site and within a radius of one nautical mile, 500 feet altitude.

The National Transportation Safety Board has their lead investigator on the scene now. The NTSB is the lead investigating agency with assistance from the FAA and local officials. NTSB has enlisted the help of other agencies including Cessna aircraft to assist with the investigation. According to NTSB officials, the entire investigation can take up to one to two years to complete.

On scene operations will remain active until dark on Sunday night. Search and recovery operations will begin again on Monday morning.

Officials urge civilian boaters to stay away from the areas marked by public safety boats.

“Recovery efforts are ongoing on the lake from the Weakley Lane bridge to the Lamar Hill Boat Ramp,” said Ingle. “We are asking all civilian boaters to stay clear of those areas.”

Lamar Hill boat ramp and Fate Sanders Recreation area are closed until further notice.

The Cessna C501 plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the Smyrna Airport just after 11 a.m. Saturday. Officials said seven people were on board the plane when it crashed. One person has been confirmed dead and the others are presumed dead.

The plane, registered to JL & GL Productions LP in Brentwood, was headed to Palm Beach, FL, when the crash occurred.

Late Saturday night, Rutherford County EMA released the name of the passengers – William J. Lara, Gwen Shamblin Lara, Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters and Brandon Hannah, all of Brentwood, TN.

All of the victims were part of the leadership team of Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood. Gwen Lara was the founder of Remnant Fellowship Church and Weigh Down Ministries.

Remnant Fellowship Church released a statement late Sunday evening, confirming the deaths of the Church leaders. 

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.

 

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