Crews wrap recovery efforts in deadly plane crash on Percy Priest Lake

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RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Crews were back on the water Tuesday as investigators continued to work to determine what caused a small jet with seven people on board to crash into Percy Priest Lake.

When you are working with a debris field that’s a half mile wide and underwater, you are bound to face some challenges. Divers say while the water is shallow, it’s black with no visibility.

“The part of the lake that the wreckage is in is in about five to seven feet of water, but the visibility is absolutely zero,” Cody Smith with Rutherford County Fire and Rescue’s Special Operations Team told News 2.


Investigation continues after 7 killed in plane crash on Percy Priest Lake

It’s a difficult operation, but with the help of more than a dozen agencies, each of their resources crews wrapped search and recovery efforts on the water Tuesday.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has two Remote Operated Vehicles or ROV’s that served as a valuable tool in recovery efforts for parts of the Cessna C501, as well as any human remains.

“It’s basically a small submarine and it’s remote controlled. The operator sits on a boat. The cord, the umbilical cord that’s attached to the ROV, supplies the power,” said Barry Cross, TWRA Communication & Outreach Coordinator.


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The ROV runs on a grid pattern, it has a camera and light with militant-grade sonar that Cross says can see as far as 300 feet out.

“The ROV can go down, it can identify something. It can actually go up to that item of interest and attach to it, and divers can follow the umbilical cord down to it, so it makes it safer for the diver,” explained Cross.

On Monday, officials escorted a barge carrying a crane and an underwater drone to the site where both engines, along with more human remains were recovered from the water.


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Smith told News 2 that divers pass all the items recovered over to the NTSB as the investigation continues. 

The Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the remains of four men and three women that were on the plane. The office will work with the Middle Tennessee Regional Forensic Center to positively identify the remains biologically and scientifically.

All those on board were members of Remnant Fellowship Church of Brentwood and all are presumed deceased. The victims were identified by the church as:

William J. Lara
Gwen Shamblin Lara
Jennifer J. Martin
David L. Martin
Jessica Walters
Jonathan Walters
Brandon Hannah


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The preliminary investigation could take up to 14 days, according to the NTSB, and the entire investigation could take 18 to 24 months.

The Lamar Hill Boat Ramp reopened Tuesday, but the Fate Sanders Recreation Area will remain closed until further notice.


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