How did Gwen Shamblin die? Plane crash revisited ahead of the final episodes of The Way Down on HBO Max.

The new HBO Max documentary, The Way Down: God, Greed and the Worship of Gwen Shamblin, begins with news coverage in which the show’s protagonist, Shamblin, dies in a plane crash in which he travels to Percy Priest Lake near Nashville, Tennessee. The plane crash was all but forgotten until the very end of the documentary, which spends the next three hours investigating the Remnant Fellowship cult church. This island religious community promotes weight loss by relying on God.

After two decades at the helm of Remnant, Lara’s reign came to an abrupt end on May 29, 2021. Here’s what happened in the plane crash and where Remnant Fellowship Church is located, months after the death of many of its leaders.


How did Gwen Shamblin die?

Gwen Shamblin Lara was a dietician who founded Weigh Down, a faith-based weight loss program for people with obesity and eating disorders. Weigh Down has helped thousands of people lose weight safely since its inception in 1992. Lara has been dubbed the “pioneer of faith-based weight loss” after the success of her program.

On May 29, 2021, Lara boarded a Cessna 501 plane at Smyrna Rutherford County Airport in Tennessee with her husband, son-in-law and two married couples. According to the Tennessean, the group was traveling to Florida to attend the Women Fighting for America event, but the plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

Around 11 a.m., the plane was seen diving into Lake Percy Priest near Nashville. According to CNN, a witness who was fishing said he saw the plane crash “straight” into the lake. All seven passengers on the plane were found dead.

The air traffic controller gave the pilot instructions to climb and maintain a height of 15,000 feet five minutes after the Cessna took off. However, the controller received no response and the aircraft made no further communication thereafter.

According to CNN, the Cessna was flying at 700 feet and descending at a rate of 31,000 feet per minute when radar made contact with it. Investigators went to the crash site to figure out what had happened. According to the medical examiner’s office, all of the bodies of the deceased were discovered inside the plane.


So where does this leave its legacy?

Shortly after the plane crash, Elizabeth Hannah, Lara’s daughter, sent a message to members of Remnant Fellowship Church, asking for prayers. According to Fox News, Elizabeth was unaware of the seriousness of the situation and said the plane “needed to descend for a quick and controlled landing”. Brandon, Elizabeth’s husband, was one of the victims of the accident.

BREAKING: The Remnant Fellowship internal message says Gwen Shamblin Lara, her husband Joe Lara and five other Remnant leaders were on the plane. It’s from Gwen Shamblin’s daughter Lara. https://t.co/yi1U9O71I8

Lara’s death saddened many, but she left a legacy in the Remnant Fellowship Church and Weigh Down Ministries. According to the Tennessean, Lara’s children — Elizabeth Shamblin, Hannah Shamblin and Michael Shamblin — will continue their mother’s religious mission and resume her role in the church. According to Remnant Fellowship followers, Lara was a selfless and caring person who touched the hearts of millions. The investigation into the plane crash is still ongoing.

The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin is set to premiere on HBO Max on April 28, 2022.


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