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 was told by Mexican authorities that Rivera had died in Sunday’s crash.
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 near the town of Iturbide in the Sierra Madre Oriental in Nuevo Leon state.
“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 his son would fly to Monterrey on Monday or today.
Alejandro Argudin, of Mexico’s civil aviation agency, said Monday it would take at least 10 days to have a preliminary report on what happened to the plane.
“We’re in the process of picking up the fragments and we have to find all the parts,” Argudin told reporters. “Depending on weather conditions it would take us at least 10 days to have a first report and many more days to have a report by experts.”
The Learjet 25, number N345MC, took off from Monterrey at 3:30 a.m. local time en route to Toluca, outside Mexico City, and was reported missing about 10 minutes later. It was registered to Starwood Management of Las Vegas, according to FAA records. It was built in 1969 and had a current registration through 2015.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the twin-turbojet was substantially damaged in a 2005 landing mishap at Amarillo International Airport in Texas. It hit a runway distance marker after losing directional control. There were four aboard but no injuries. It was registered to a company in Houston at the time.
Messages of condolence poured in to the Rivera family from 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.”
Born in Los Angeles, 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, banda and ranchero styles.
A 43-year-old mother of five children and grandmother of two, the woman sometimes called 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.
Rivera sold 15 million records and recently won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards. She was nominated for Latin Grammys in 2002, 2008 and 2011.