'Tarzan' actor Joe Lara presumed dead after plane crash in Tennessee

The former actor was best known for his role in the 1989 film and follow-up TV series

All seven passengers aboard a plane, including 'Tarzan' actor Joe Lara and his wife, are presumed dead after it crashed into a lake near the US city of Nashville, according to authorities. AFP
All seven passengers aboard a plane, including 'Tarzan' actor Joe Lara and his wife, are presumed dead after it crashed into a lake near the US city of Nashville, according to authorities. AFP

American actor Joe Lara, who starred in the TV series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures in the 1990s, is believed to be one of seven people who have died in a plane crash in Tennessee, US.

Investigators on Sunday continued searching for passengers after a small plane crashed into the Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna. Rutherford County Fire Rescue Captain John Ingle said that recovery efforts were ongoing and that they were focused on examining almost a kilometre-wide debris field in the lake.

Emergency personnel remove debris from a plane crash in Percy Priest Lake Sunday, May 30, 2021, near Smyrna, Tenn. A small jet carrying seven people crashed Saturday, and authorities indicated that no one on board survived. AP Photo
Emergency personnel remove debris from a plane crash in Percy Priest Lake on Sunday, May 30, 2021, near Smyrna, Tennessee. AP

Lara, 58, played the lead in the 1989 film Tarzan in Manhattan and then starred in the follow-up series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures. He appeared in a few action films before giving up acting to pursue a career in country music.

His wife of three years, Gwen Shamblin Lara, who founded the Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood in 1999 and wrote a faith-based weight loss book, is also believed to have died in the crash.

County officials identified the victims in a news release on Saturday as Brandon Hannah, Gwen S Lara, William J Lara, David L Martin, Jennifer J Martin, Jessica Walters and Jonathan Walters, all of Brentwood, Tennessee. Their names were released after family members had been notified.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the Cessna C501 plane was heading from nearby Smyrna Rutherford County Airport to Palm Beach International Airport when it crashed Saturday morning. Authorities did not release registration information for the plane.

Smyrna is located about 32 kilometres south-east of Nashville. Percy Priest Lake is a reservoir created by the J Percy Priest Dam. It is a popular spot for boating and fishing.

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

The National Transportation Safety Board had a lead investigator at the site.

– Additional reporting by AP

Updated: May 31, 2021 10:28 AM

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