Joe Lara: Tarzan actor feared dead along with wife after plane crashes into lake

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<p>Actor Joe Lara attends an awards ceremony in 1996</p> (Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Actor Joe Lara attends an awards ceremony in 1996

(Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Tarzan actor Joe Lara is presumed to have been killed along with his wife and six others after a light aircraft crashed into a popular fishing lake.

The actor, 58, who portrayed the jungle king in 1990s series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, was named as being on board the small jet as investigators continue to pull wreckage from Percy Priest Lake in Tennessee.

During a press conference on Saturday’s crash, Rutherford County Fire Rescue Capt. Joshua Sanders admitted: “We are no longer… looking for live victims at this point.”

Fire Rescue Captain John Ingle said in a statement on Sunday that recovery efforts were ongoing at Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna. He said efforts also were focused on examining a half mile-wide debris field in the lake.

The jet began dropping dramatically just 90 seconds into its flight, air traffic control records show.

“With dive teams in the water, we are strongly urging civilian boaters to stay away from the public safety boats,” Ingle said.

Lara played Tarzan in the 1989 television movie Tarzan in Manhattan but had quit acting in a bid to become a country music star.

Tennessee authorities find human remains in plane crash (Rutherford County Fire & Rescue)
Tennessee authorities find human remains in plane crash (Rutherford County Fire & Rescue)

His wife Gwen Shamblin Lara, whom he married in 2018, was the leader of a Christian weight-loss group called Weigh Down Ministries.


She founded the group in 1986, and then in 1999 founded the Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood, Tennessee.

She is survived by two children from a previous marriage, according to a statement posted on the church's website.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration website, no one on that flight was qualified to fly the plane. Joe Lara, 58, had a pilot's license but had not updated his medical certification since 2017. The medical certification is required every two years.

Brandon Hannah, another church leader with a pilot license, was on the flight, but he didn't have a certification for the small Cessna by-plane.

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Michael Shamblin, son of Gwen Lara from a previous marriage, paid tribute to her: “My mother was a special person and her memory will definitely remain for a very long time as she has a place in millions of peoples hearts around the world through her work with the Weigh Down Workshop.

“Joe Lara was also such a wonderful husband to my mother and he will be missed.

“Thanks again to all who have helped us and these families during this difficult time.”

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