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Feds release preliminary report on small jet that crashed into Percy Priest Lake

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Rutherford County
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(Mike Osborne)  --  A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board released this week said the small jet that crashed into Percy Priest Lake last month plowed nose first into the lake’s shallow waters shortly after takeoff.

Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin and six members of her Brentwood church died in the crash. Shamblin’s husband, Joe Lara, was piloting the aircraft.

The NTSB report cites radar data indicating that seconds after takeoff from the Smyrna Airport the Cessna jet changed direction and altitude several times before beginning a steep dive.

The report also notes that pilot Joe Lara initially communicated with air traffic controllers in a routine manner, but stopped responding seconds before the crash.

NTSB also sites a witness fishing on Percy Priest Lake. The witness told investigators the jet dove nose first into the lake at a steep angle. The witness said there was no evidence of fire or an explosion ahead of the crash.

NTSB notes the jet was not equipped with a flight recorder, apparently typical for that class of small aircraft.

Investigators revealed that some portions of the jet have not been recovered. However, most major components, including the aircraft’s engines, were successfully pulled from the lake.

Final aircraft crash reports by the NTSB typical take months or even years to complete.