Tarzan actor Joe Lara among seven presumed dead in US plane crash

Small aircraft crashed into lake in Tennessee shortly after take-off on Saturday

All seven people aboard a small aircraft were presumed dead after it crashed shortly after take-off into a lake outside Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday, authorities said.

The aircraft, a Cessna Citation 501, crashed into Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna, Tennessee, at about 11 am local time, shortly after it had taken off from Smyrna Airport, south of Nashville.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that seven people had been on board. Ashley McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Rutherford County government in Tennessee, identified those on board as William J Lara, Gwen S Lara, Jennifer J Martin, David L Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters and Brandon Hannah – all of Brentwood, Tennessee.

Before noon Sunday, crews found several parts of the plane as well as human remains in a debris field that was about a half-mile wide, officials said. A search was expected to continue until nightfall on Sunday and resume on Monday.


William Lara, also known as Joe Lara, played Tarzan in the movie Tarzan in Manhattan and in the television series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures. He married Gwen Shamblin in 2018.

Gwen Shamblin Lara was the leader of a Christian weight-loss group, Weigh Down Ministries, which she founded in 1986. In 1999, she founded the Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood. She and William Lara were members of its leadership team.

At a news conference Saturday night, captain Joshua Sanders of Rutherford County Fire Rescue said that after searching the lake since 11am, “we have transitioned from a rescue effort to a recovery effort”. The crews on the scene were “no longer looking for live victims at this point,” Mr Sanders said. “We are now recovering as much as we can from the crash site.”

The plane was headed to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida when it crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board said it had sent two investigators to the crash site. A preliminary report on the crash is expected in about two weeks, the agency said, and a complete report, including the probable cause, could take up to two years. – New York Times