LONG BEACH (CBS/AP) — The wreckage of a small plane believed to be carrying Jenni Rivera, the U.S-born singer whose soulful voice and unfettered discussion of a series of personal travails made her a Mexican-American music superstar, was found in northern Mexico on Sunday. Authorities said there were no survivors.READ MORE: Tournament Of Roses Parade Floats Go On Test Drive In Irwindale Saturday
Her family said they were in mourning and Rivera’s brother would travel to Mexico on Monday to identify what they presumed were her remains.
On Sunday evening, hundreds of fans gathered outside the Lakewood home where Rivera’s mother lived. Fans wanted to pay their respects and as Andrea Fujii reported for CBS2 and KCAL9, they didn’t want to grieve alone.
A grief-stricken Rosa Rivera — Rivera’s mother — spoke to reporters via an interpreter. “I know my daughter is singing to our Lord.”
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 her 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.
Rivera’s father, Pedro Rivera, told dozens of reporters gathered in front of his Los Angeles-area home that “I believe my daughter’s body is unrecognizable.”
Rivera said his son would travel to Monterrey early Monday morning to identify his sister’s presumed remains.
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.READ MORE: Average LA County Gas Prices Up $1.19 From Last Year: AAA
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.
Media and celebrities in Mexico sent condolences to Rivera’s family, but authorities still had not confirmed that she was aboard the plane and said there will be an investigation to identify the remains found.
“My friend! Why? There is no consolation. God, please help me!” said Mexican pop singer Paulina Rubio on her official Twitter account. Singer Miguel Bose, who appears on the Mexican show “The Mexican Voice” along with Rivera, wrote on his Twitter account: “My dear Jenni, you will always be in my heart. Forever. I love you.”
Also believed aboard the plane were her publicist, Arturo Rivera, her lawyer, makeup artist and the flight crew.
Though drug trafficking was the theme of some of her songs, she was not considered a singer of “narco corridos,” or ballads glorifying drug lords like other groups, such as Los Tigres del Norte. She was better known for singing about her troubles in love and disdain for men.
Her parents were Mexicans who had migrated to the United States. Two of her five brothers, Lupillo and Juan Rivera, are also well-known singers of grupero music.
She studied business administration and formally debuted on the music scene in 1995 with the release of her album “Chacalosa”. Due to its success, she recorded two more independent albums, “We Are Rivera” and “Farewell to Selena,” a tribute album to slain singer Selena that helped expand her following.
At the end of the 1990s, Rivera was signed by Sony Music and released two more albums. But widespread success came for her when she joined Fonovisa and released her 2005 album titled “Partier, Rebellious and Daring.”
Besides being a singer, she is also a businesswoman and actress, appearing in the indie film Filly Brown, which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, as the incarcerated mother of Filly Brown.
She was filming the third season of “I love Jenni,” which followed her as she shared special moments with her children and as she toured through Mexico and the United States. She also has the reality shows: “Jenni Rivera Presents: Chiquis and Raq-C” and her daughter’s “Chiquis ‘n Control.”
In 2009, she was detained at the Mexico City airport when she declared $20,000 in cash but was really carrying $52,167. She was taken into custody. She said it was an innocent mistake and authorities gave her the benefit of the doubt and released her.
In 2011, her brother Juan assaulted a drunken fan at a popular fair in Guanajuato. In the face of heavy criticism among her fans and on social networks, Rivera publicly apologized for the incident during a concert in Mexico City, telling her fans: “Thank you for accepting me as I am, with my virtues and defects.”
On Saturday night, Rivera had given a concert before thousands of fans in Monterrey. After the concert she gave a press conference during which she spoke of her emotional state following her recent divorce from former Major League Baseball pitcher Esteban Loaiza, who played for teams including the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I can’t get caught up in the negative because that destroys you. Perhaps trying to move away from my problems and focus on the positive is the best I can do. I am a woman like any other and ugly things happen to me like any other woman,” she said Saturday night. “The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up.”
Rivera had announced in October that she was divorcing Loaiza after two years of marriage.MORE NEWS: One Killed, One Injured In Traffic Crash On Freeway In Santa Ana
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