NTSB: singer Rivera dead in Mexican plane crash

By Porfirio Ibarra

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Dec. 10 2012 9:45 a.m. MST

Rosie Rivera, sister of singer Jenni Rivera, hugs their mother Rosa Rivera, as Pastor Pedro Rivera Jr., left, watches during a news conference with friends and family outside the home of Rivera's father in Lakewood, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. Authorities have not confirmed her death, but Rivera’s relatives in the U.S. say they have few doubts that she was on the Learjet 25 that disintegrated on impact Sunday in rugged territory in Nuevo Leon state in northern Mexico.

Patrick T. Fallon, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

MONTERREY, Mexico — U.S. authorities confirmed Monday that Jenni Rivera, a U.S.-born singer whose soulful voice and openness about her personal troubles made her a Mexican-American superstar, was killed in a plane crash in northern Mexico.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to help investigate the crash, and the board said Mexican authorities had informed them that Rivera had died in the accident.

Rivera's relatives in the U.S. already had few doubts that she was on the Learjet 25 that disintegrated on impact Sunday in rugged territory in Nuevo Leon state in northern Mexico.

"My son Lupillo told me that effectively it was Jenni's plane that crashed and that everyone on board died," her father, Pedro Rivera, told dozens of reporters gathered in front of his Los Angeles-area home. "I believe my daughter's body is unrecognizable."

He said that his son would fly to Monterrey Monday.

Messages of condolence poured in from fellow musicians and celebrities.

Mexican songstress and actress Lucero wrote on her Twitter account: "What terrible news! Rest in peace ... My deepest condolences for her family and friends." Rivera's colleague on the Mexican show "The Voice of Mexico," pop star Paulina Rubio, said on her Twitter account: "My friend! Why? There is no consolation. God, please help me!"

Born in Long Beach, California, Rivera was at the peak of her career as perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated regional style influenced by the norteno, cumbia and ranchero styles.

A 43-year-old mother of five children and grandmother of two, the woman known as the "Diva de la Banda" was known for frank talk about her struggles to give a good life to her children despite a series of setbacks.

She was recently divorced from her third husband, was once detained at a Mexico City airport with tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and she publicly apologized after her brother assaulted a drunken fan who verbally attacked her in 2011.

Her openness about her personal troubles endeared her to millions in the U.S. and Mexico.

"I am the same as the public, as my fans," she told The Associated Press in an interview last March.

Rivera sold 15 million records, and recently won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards: Female Artist of the Year and Banda Album of the Year for "Joyas prestadas: Banda." She was nominated for Latin Grammys in 2002, 2008 and 2011.

Transportation and Communications Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said "everything points toward" the wreckage belonging to the plane carrying Rivera and six other people to Toluca, outside Mexico City, from Monterrey, where the singer had just given a concert.

"There is nothing recognizable, neither material nor human" in the wreckage found in the state of Nuevo Leon, Ruiz Esparza said. The impact was so powerful that the remains of the plane "are scattered over an area of 250 to 300 meters. It is almost unrecognizable."

A mangled California driver's license with Rivera's name and picture was found in the crash site debris.

No cause was given for the plane's crash, but its wreckage was found near the town of Iturbide in Mexico's Sierra Madre Oriental, where the terrain is very rough.

The Learjet 25, number N345MC, took off from Monterrey at 3:30 a.m. local time and was reported missing about 10 minutes later. It was registered to Starwood Management of Las Vegas, Nevada, according to FAA records. It was built in 1969 and had a current registration through 2015.

Also believed aboard the plane were her publicist, Arturo Rivera, her lawyer, makeup artist and the flight crew.

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