Famed ‘Banda’ Singer Killed in Plane Crash

Mexican-American entertainer raised in the Southland was beloved internationally.

By City News Service

The National Transportation Safety Board was assisting Mexican authorities today with the investigation of a Learjet crash that killed Mexican “banda” singer, reality television star and Long Beach native Jenni Rivera.

“We’re going to provide technical assistance,” Terry Williams of the NTSB said. “It’s not our investigation.”

The Learjet LJ25 plane crashed in northern Mexico about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, according to the NTSB.

Jenni Rivera Sings National Anthem at Dodger Stadium in 2010. EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno

“The airplane crashed about 70 miles south of Monterrey, Mexico, due to unknown circumstances while en route to Mexico City, Mexico,” according to the NTSB. “All seven persons on board were fatally injured including Latin singer Jenni Rivera.”

Rivera, 43, dominated the “banda” style of regional Mexican music popular in California and northwestern Mexico. She was one of the biggest stars on Mexico television and was popular on “regional Mexican” stations in California.

Rivera’s brother said the family may travel to Mexico tonight or tomorrow to claim her remains, depending on the status of the investigation.

Pedro Rivera described the last time he saw his sister, saying, “I had a feeling that something was gonna happen.”

“And I hugged her and kissed her, and I didn’t know I didn’t know that was gonna be the last time I was gonna see her,” he said.

Searchers late Sunday found wreckage, but no survivors, near Iturbide, Nuevo Leon, according to the city’s mayor, who was quoted on the Televisa station in Monterrey. Rivera’s driver’s license was found in the wreckage.

The plane was owned by a Las Vegas company, Starlight Management, and it had departed earlier from Houston, according to an Internet flight-tracking service. It crashed after leaving Monterrey around 3:15 a.m. following a concert en route to an airport near Mexico City.

Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s secretary of communications and transportation, described the crash site in remarks quoted by the Los Angeles Times, saying, “Everything is destroyed. Nothing is recognizable.”

Jenni Rivera threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium in 2010. EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno

The news hit Southland Rivera fans hard.

“She was a great singer, a great mother,” Jovana Ramirez told ABC7 outside Rivera’s Encino estate. “Everything for her was just fantastic.”

Young fan Briana Camacho remembered Rivera to ABC7 as funny and “a person not just famous, but she’s normal, like other people.”

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December 10, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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