Updated 9:30 p.m. Monday
Crews looking for debris and human remains from the private jet that crashed into Percy Priest Lake on Saturday have found seven bodies — four male and three female — along with both engines and much of the fuselage.
Divers are using a barge and crane to lift parts of the plane from the bottom of the lake near Fate Sanders Recreation Area. They also say because of weather and boat traffic, the crash site has expanded slightly since the initial search over the weekend.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still giving no indication why the plane went down shortly after takeoff from the Smyrna airport. Preliminary findings are expected within 14 days.
“We release information in a very specific format at specific times,” NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said in a statement Monday night. “Water recoveries are more difficult, so patience is appreciated as it may take some time to release updates.”
All of the passengers were leaders of the diet-focused Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood, including founder Gwen Shamblin Lara. Her children released statements praising their mother’s work, which has often been surrounded by controversy.
“The seven Remnant Fellowship Leaders lost [Saturday], including my husband and my mother, were some of the finest, most righteous and loving people I have ever known,” said Elizabeth Hannah, who is also a leader of the congregation. “I want the entire world to know that my mother, Gwen Shamblin Lara, was the kindest, most gentle, selfless, loving mother and best friend to me and my brother.”
The Tennessean reports Joe Lara, who married Gwen Shamblin in 2018, had a pilot’s license but had not updated his medical certification since 2017. It’s required every two years. The twin-engine Cessna built in 1982 was owned by the Lara’s production company.