21 Aug 2014
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Jenni Rivera's Family Struggles to Accept Her Death

NTSB confirmed the star, a Long Beach native and Encino resident, was among seven Mexican plane crash victims. Her Lakewood family tells media, fans, they'll believe only after her body's found.

Relatives of Mexican "banda" singer and reality television star Jenni Rivera told a Monday news conference attended by reporters and crowds of fans at her family's Lakewood home that they haven't accepted that she's dead.

One of her brothers, Juan Rivera, said he would continue to believe Jenni was still alive, at least until he had confirmation that her body had been recovered from the plane's wreckage. He expressed hope that "God gave her life" and people should "expect more in the future."

 Another of the singer's brothers, Pedro Rivera Jr., said he had seen her Thursday, just before she flew to Mexico for concerts. He said it was a very emotional meeting, adding, "I guess she had a feeling something was going to happen."

Pedro Rivera Jr. said he planned to go to Mexico and return to Southern California with his sister's body. He said family members wanted to see for themselves that she had died.

Pedro Rivera Jr. said the family may travel to Mexico Monday night or Tuesday to claim her remains, if found, and depending on the investigation.

The last time he saw his sister, he said, "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."   

The singer, who had sold more than 15 million records, sang songs of heartbreak and abuse. She had her own reality show, and ABC was developing a comedy pilot for her, according to the entertainment website Deadline.com.

Jenni Rivera was born in Long Beach and attended Poly High School but became pregnant and didn't graduate. She later earned her GED, but lived a stormy and tumultuous life, which was the basis for much of her music. She had been married and divorced three times.

She sang of abuse and humiliation -- one disc jockey described her music as being Mexico's equivalent of country music.

Television reports indicated that the Learjet she was flying in crashed 15 minutes after takeoff in a remote mountainous area notorious for drug smuggling. It was also foggy. The jet was 43 years old and had a history of serious problems.

The National Transportation Safety Board was assisting Mexican authorities with the investigation of the Learjet crash.   

"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.

"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."

Williams emphasized that the NTSB was only "providing technical assistance, no analysis." He said the death of the singer initially reported by the agency did not come from its own resources. Instead, it was from a news release from Mexican authorities, Williams said. The agency would not provide additional information on its own, Williams said.

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.

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."

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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