NTSB Decides Cause of Crash That Killed Dieting Guru

Gwen Shamblin Lara, proponent of 'faith-based dieting,' founded Remnant Fellowship Church
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2021 11:15 AM CDT
Updated Mar 22, 2023 6:35 PM CDT
Gwen Lara, 6 Others Die When Small Plane Goes Into Lake
Emergency personnel remove debris from a plane crash in Percy Priest Lake on May 30, 2021, near Smyrna, Tenn.   (George Walker IV/The Tennessean via AP, File)
UPDATE Mar 22, 2023 6:35 PM CDT

The National Transportation Safety Board has reached a conclusion in its investigation of the plane crash that killed Gwen Shamblin Lara and six other people nearly two years ago. The report says the plane's pilot probably became disoriented while flying in heavy clouds just after takeoff from an airport near Nashville, the AP reports. The plane was being flown by Joe Lara, an actor who was the weight-loss guru's husband. Data show the plane made a series of climbs, descents, and turns consistent with somatogravic illusion, a spatial disorientation that could have led the pilot to think the plane was pitching up though it was descending.

May 30, 2021 11:15 AM CDT

Gwen Lara, dieting proponent and church founder, apparently died Saturday when a small plane crashed into a Tennessee lake soon after takeoff. Her husband, actor Joe Lara, and five other people were on the plane, USA Today reports. A witness saw the plane hit the water, and officials said the search had become a recovery effort by Sunday. "We are no longer ... looking for live victims at this point," said Fire Rescue Capt. Joshua Sanders. The small plane had taken off from Smyrna, about 3 miles from Percy Priest Lake, and was headed to Palm Beach, Fla. Lara's daughter Elizabeth Shamblin Hannah, whose husband was on the flight, texted church families Saturday saying, the plane "had to go down for a controlled, quick landing ... God is in control."

Lara, who founded Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood in 1999 based on "faith-based weight loss," drew wide attention for her pronouncements. She said children should obey their parents and wives should obey their husbands. Church members should obey church leaders, Lara said, per the Tennessean. Being overweight indicated greed and gluttony, and she said genetic factors don't affect weight loss. Lara, 66, was criticized for comments about thin Jews imprisoned in concentration camps. Churches around the world used her book, The Weigh Down Diet, and videos despite criticism that the church was a cult. Joe Lara, 58, appeared for a short time in the 1990s in the title role of the TV series, "Tarzan: The Epic Adventures." The other passengers were all church leaders. (More plane crash stories.)

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