The more information that comes out about singer Jenni Rivera's awful plane crash last Sunday, the more tragic -- and strange -- this story seems to get. So first we just knew that her plane had gone missing, and then we heard it had crashed, and then the spooky details were released about how it fell from the sky (at top speed, apparently, from more than 28,000 feet). Her family seems unwilling to accept Rivera's death, thanks in part to a psychic who's been claiming that River somehow managed to survive the impact.
Meanwhile, there are all these bizarre new revelations about the plane itself, the aged pilot, the shady businessman who was one of the plane's owners, and the fact that Jenni River's doomed flight was considered a "free demo" because she was in the process of buying the Learjet.
Curiouser and curiouser …
Let's cover what's been reported, one topic at a time:
The plane's previous malfunction. The plane was a Learjet 25, and according to U.S. aviation records, it had sustained "substantial" damage in 2005 when a pilot lost control and struck a runway distance marker while landing in Amarillo, Texas. Apparently the issue was the fault of a fuel imbalance, which made one wing tip nearly 300 pounds heavier than the other. No one was injured in that incident, and according to the company that owns the plane, the accident was "minor."
The troubled company and executive associated with the plane. An executive of Starwood Management, which owned the Learjet 25 jet, has served jail time for allegedly faking the safety records of planes he sold. Christian E. Esquino was sentenced to 2 years in prison in 2005 after being charged with falsifying aircraft information in order to improve maintenance records and charge a higher price for the planes he bought from the Mexican government and sold to private owners in the U.S. According to the L.A. Times, Esquino has been accused of being involved in all sorts of criminal activities:
For 20 years, Esquino has been embroiled in a briar of legal allegations, many involving airplanes — a bankruptcy and a restraining order, criminal indictments and civil judgments, cocaine-distribution charges, even a role in an alleged conspiracy to airlift relatives of the late Moammar Kadafi out of Libya.
The pilot. The pilot was Miguel Perez Soto, and he was 78 years old. He had a valid license to fly in Mexico, but in the U.S. he had some license restrictions -- he couldn't fly if the use of instruments was necessary, and he couldn't carry paid passengers. Esquino says that Perez was highly qualified, but theorizes the man may have had a heart attack, and that for some reason the younger pilot was unable to save the plane.
The "free demo." Esquino has said that the flight was not a charter as originally reported. Apparently Rivera was actually in the final stages of buying the plane from Starwood for $250,000, and the flight was offered as a sort of free demonstration of its flight capabilities. (Um, worst demo ever.)
I have no idea what to make of all this, but it certainly makes an unhappy story even more confusing and difficult to comprehend. I don't envy the authorities the job of trying to unravel all of this to figure out exactly what happened last Sunday … and determine if anything other than a purely unavoidable accident led to that terrible crash.
What do you think of this developing story about Jenni Rivera's plane? Do you have any theories about what may have happened?
Image via Jenni Rivera