(NY POST) – A Christian diet guru, her husband, and five other people are presumed dead after their small plane crashed into a Tennessee lake on Saturday, authorities said.
The Cessna C501 slammed into Percy Priest Lake outside Nashville at around 11 a.m., officials said, according to News Channel 5 Nashville.
The aircraft belonged to 66-year-old Gwen Shamblin Lara, founder of the controversial Remnant Fellowship Church and author of “The Weigh Down Workshop,” and her husband Joe Lara.
The Brentwood-based couple had registered the plane through their company, JL&GL Productions LP, the report said.
The other passengers were identified by authorities as: Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters and Brandon Hannah. All were reportedly members of Lara’s church.
Investigators said in a late-night briefing that all of the passengers were believed to have perished, the outlet reported.
Officials found a debris field near where the aircraft was last seen, plummeting into the water on the lake near a boat ramp.
In a text message viewed by the station, Lara’s daughter Elizabeth Hannah wrote to other parishioners that her mother, husband and fellow church leaders were on board the doomed flight.
“My brother and I are asking for immediate prayers right now, as we have just gotten word that Gwen and Joe Lara’s plane had to go down for a controlled, quick landing,” the group text reportedly read.
“We do not have word yet of the outcome, but we are asking for prayers – as this plane held Gwen and Joe, Brandon Hannah, the Martins and the Walters — adults only.”
Controversy had swirled around the for-profit religious weight loss movement for years, according to the station.
Lara, a former dietician who combined weight loss and Christianity, once downplayed reports that she was viewed as a prophet in the organization, which some compared to a cult.
“I don’t believe I know what my gift name is,” she told the station when asked about her prophet status in 2003. “So I will tell you I’m still wrestling with that. I’ve been told that for years.”
This money, half of it goes to the government, the other half goes to keep it going so someone else can be helped,” Lara reportedly told CNN’s Larry King when pressed about her lavish lifestyle.