Christian diet guru, ‘Tarzan’ star husband en route to MAGA event when plane crashed: report

Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin Lara, her husband and five other people may have been flying to a MAGA-themed event in Florida when their plane crashed, killing everyone on board, according to a report.

Kimberly Fletcher, who was reportedly due to speak at a “We The People: Patriot’s Day” rally, said she was “heartbroken” about the tragedy.

“I am in Florida…for an event I’m speaking at tomorrow,” Fletcher wrote on Facebook on Saturday, The Sun reported.

“One of the sponsors was flying in on a private plane with some friends. The plane went down and…it looks there are no survivors,” she added. “Please pray for them, their families and the church members where they pastor.”

It was unclear which of the victims may have been sponsoring the Sunshine State event.

Lara, 66, last year donated at least $4,000 to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee and Donald J. Trump for President Inc., The Sun reported, citing Federal Election Commission data.

Emergency personnel remove debris from a plane crash in Percy Priest Lake Sunday, May 30, 2021, near Smyrna, Tennessee.
Emergency personnel remove debris from a plane crash in Percy Priest Lake Sunday, May 30, 2021, near Smyrna, Tennessee.
George Walker IV/The Tennessean via AP
Gwen Shamblin Lara donated at least $4,000 to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee and Donald J. Trump for President Inc. last year.
Gwen Shamblin Lara donated at least $4,000 to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee and Donald J. Trump for President Inc. last year.
Facebook

The Federal Aviation Administration told WTVF that the Cessna 501 departed from the Smyrna Rutherford County Airport just before 11 a.m. for the Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The people on the flight were affiliated with the controversial Remnant Fellowship Church, which Lara — author of “The Weigh Down Diet” — founded in 1999 and some have compared to a cult. 

The Remnant Fellowship founder Gwen Shamblin was reportedly on the way to a Donald Trump rally at the time of the fatal plane crash.
The Remnant Fellowship founder Gwen Shamblin was reportedly on the way to a Donald Trump rally at the time of the fatal plane crash.
AP Photo/John Russell

On Sunday, the church released the following statement:

“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.

Emergency crew seen searching at the scene of the crash.
Emergency crew seen searching at the scene of the crash.
George Walker IV/The Tennessean via AP

“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.”

The plane was registered to JL&GL Productions LP, a partnership formed by Lara and her husband, Joe Lara, 58, who played Tarzan on television in the 1980s and 1990s, WTBVF reported.

Gwen’s daughter, Elizabeth Hannah, sent out a text to church families asking for prayers, saying the aircraft “had to go down for a controlled, quick landing,” the outlet reported.

No one on the doomed flight was qualified to fly the plane, The Tennessean reported.

Joe had a pilot’s license but had not updated his medical certification since 2017, the newspaper reported, citing FAA records.The medical certification is required every two years.

Brandon Hannah, who also held a pilot’s license, didn’t have a certification for the Cessna 500 series, according to the FAA.

A recording of the communication between air traffic control and the pilot, captured on LiveATC.com, revealed an alarm going off in the cockpit seconds before the crash, suggesting a problem in the plane, which was built in 1982.

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