Joe Lara stars in Tarzan: The Epic Adventures in 1996

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Rescue workers have found wreckage and human remains after the crash of a small plane in Tennessee. The aircraft was carrying Tarzan star Joe Lara, his wife Gwen Shamblin Lara, and five other members of the Remnant Fellowship Church, who all died in the tragedy.

Rutherford County Fire and Rescue Captain John Ingle has said recovery operations were being carried out at Percy Priest Lake in Smyrna, 25 miles southeast of Nashville, and workers would continue until dark and potentially the next day.

“The debris field is approximately a half of a mile wide,” he explained, saying that that National Transportation Safety Board was investigating, and that the entire investigation could be ongoing for up to two years.  

The Cessna C501 departed from Smyrna Rutherford County Airport before it crashed into the water at 10:53am on Saturday shortly after take-off, officials have confirmed. 

The plane was travelling to Palm Beach International Airport, however it is not yet known who was piloting it.  

The aircraft is registered to Lara and her husband Joe through their company JL&GL Productions LP, according to WTVF.

Elizabeth Hannah, Lara’s daughter, had sent out an internal text to families of the church telling them the plane “had to go down for a controlled, quick landing,” the media outlet reported.

Joe was best known for playing Tarzan in the 1989 film Tarzan in Manhattan and the 1990s’ TV series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures.

Alongside Tarzan, Joe had a successful television and movie career.


He appeared in the 1995 sci-fi drama, Steel Frontier playing the role of Yuma, as well as making an appearance as Frank Randall in Baywatch back in 1993.

Yesterday, the church released a statement confirming the deaths of diet guru Gwen and Lara in the crash as well as Hannah’s husband Brandon, church leaders David and Jennifer Martin; and Jonathan and Jessica Walters.  

The statement read: “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.

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“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.”

Elizabeth Hannah had written to the church’s parishioners asking for prayers before the news broke of the seven passengers’ deaths.

She penned: “My brother and I are asking for immediate prayers right now.”

“We have just gotten word that Gwen and Joe Lara’s plane had to go down for a controlled, quick landing,” she wrote.

“More information to come, but be in prayer – and be at peace. GOD IS IN CONTROL, and we will not stop moving forward with WHAT GOD WANTS with this church.”

Joe tied the knot with wife, Christian author and pastor Gwen, in 2018, with the couple leaving behind three children between them from previous relationships.

Gwen was mum to Michael Shamblin and Elizabeth Shamblin Hannah from her first marriage to David Shamblin, while Joe had one child with his former partner, Natasha Pavlovich.

The pair were joined on the small jet by Gwen’s son-in-law, Brandon Hannah and three members of their church who were travelling onboard the Cessna Citation ISP.

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