MONTERREY, Mexico — New details emerged about the plane crash that claimed the life of singer Jenni Rivera as her family in Los Angeles sought answers.
Rivera, who lived in Encino, is believed to have died Sunday when her small plane crashed shortly after taking off in Mexico.
Mexican officials told reporters Monday night that they believed her plane dropped 28,000 feet at speeds that might have exceeded 600 mph.
“The plane practically nose-dived. The impact must have been terrible,” official Gerardo Ruiz Esparza told a Mexican radio station, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities said they believe they have found her remains but are awaiting DNA testing.
Rivera’s brothers said they still hold out some hope that she is alive but said they were prepared for the worst.
“We still have hope that she’s alive,” Pedro Rivera Jr., the singer’s brother, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “It’s a 95% chance that she’s dead, but we have that belief because we don’t have a body. They found clothes.”
“If God doesn’t come through, he is still the one who gives us life,” he added.
Scores of fans held a vigil outside the singer’s home, some singing Rivera’s songs and tearfully mourning her apparent death.
Candlelight vigils were held Monday night in Long Beach and Corona.
The Long Beach native was 43 and leaves behind five children.
Mexico’s ministry of transportation did not confirm her death outright but said she had been aboard the plane and no one survived. Six others, including two pilots, also were onboard.
“She was the Diana Ross of Mexican music,” said Gustavo Lopez, an executive vice president at Universal Music Latin Entertainment, an umbrella group that includes Rivera’s label.
Lopez called Rivera “larger than life” and said that based on ticket sales, she was by far the top-grossing female artist in Mexico.
Rivera had performed a concert in Monterrey, Mexico, on Saturday night — her standard fare of knee-buckling power ballads, pop-infused interpretations of traditional banda music and dizzying rhinestone costume changes.
At a news conference after the show, Rivera appeared happy and tranquil, pausing at one point to take a call on her cellphone that turned out to be a wrong number.
She fielded questions about struggles in her personal life, including her recent separation from husband, Esteban Loaiza, a former major league pitcher whose career included a stint with the Dodgers.
“I can’t focus on the negative,” she said in Spanish. “Because that will defeat you. That will destroy you…. The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up.”
Hours later, shortly after 3 a.m., Rivera is believed to have boarded a Learjet 25, which took off under clear skies.
The jet headed south, toward Toluca, west of Mexico City; there, Rivera had been scheduled to tape the television show “La Voz” — Mexico’s version of “The Voice” — on which she was a judge.
The plane, built in 1969 and registered to a Las Vegas talent management firm, reached 11,000 feet.
But 10 minutes and 62 miles into the flight, air traffic controllers lost contact with its pilots, according to Mexican authorities.
The jet crashed outside Iturbide, a remote city that straddles one of the few roads bisecting Mexico’s Sierra de Arteaga national park.
Wreckage was scattered across several football fields’ worth of terrain. An investigation into the cause of the crash was underway.
-Los Angeles Times