Feds Investigate Plane Crash That Killed 7 Evangelicals

Nashville’s ABC News affiliate reports:

The reason a small jet plummeted into Percy Priest Lake on Saturday morning is still a mystery, but a recording indicates air traffic control lost contact with the pilot very early on.

In a recording obtained by NewsChannel5 Investigates, the pilot only has a few exchanges with ATC at Smyrna / Rutherford County Airport before the dialogue cuts off.

“66BravoKilo. Do you copy you’re heading 130?,” said the air traffic controller. “130 66BravoKilo,” said the pilot, the last the tower hears from the plane. All seven people on board the Cessna C501, including Remnant Fellowship Church founder Gwen Shamblin Lara, are presumed dead.

USA Today reports:

Crews were still working on the scene of the crash Tuesday morning but operations were drawing to a close, Rutherford County spokesperson Ashley McDonald said. The National Transportation Safety Board will handle the ongoing investigation.

NTSB spokesperson Eric Weiss estimated it would be two weeks before a preliminary investigation report is released. The full investigation, including a probable cause of the crash, may take one to two years.

The event the group was traveling to in Florida was billed as “We The People Patriots’ Day Rally,” which took place Sunday. Polarizing political operative Roger Stone was among those listed promoting the rally.

The Tennessean reports:

The Remnant Fellowship, founded in 1999, reportedly has more than 1,500 members in 150 congregations around the world. Gwen Lara had said being overweight was a sign of greed and gluttony. She said children were to obey parents, wives were to obey husbands and members were to obey church leaders.

Lara had been a lightning rod for critical news coverage over the years after she founded the church based on what she called “faith-based” weight loss. The Remnant Fellowship website lists food ahead of drugs, depression, self focus, money, anger, selfishness, envy and jealousy as the idols that need to be “laid down.”

She made insensitive comments about thin Jews in concentration camps. In 2003, she supported Remnant congregants Joseph and Sonya Smith, who were convicted of murdering their 8-year-old son Josef. The Smiths admitted beating Josef with a glue stick. The Remnant supports corporal punishment for children.

Lara and her husband were also apparent QAnon followers. As you can see below, the rally they had sponsored featured a galaxy of Qanon and anti-vax nutbags. My Saturday report on the crash and the couple’s past is here.