Mexican businessman Christian Esquino. (Photo/Courtesy Telemundo)

Jenni Rivera’s plane owner says pilot may have suffered heart attack

Jenni Rivera’s death has placed the spotlight on Christian Esquino, the businessman who owns the Learjet 25 that crashed on December 9th, killing Rivera. Esquino, who runs the Las Vegas-based Starwood Management aviation company, is stepping forward to tell the world his part of the story.

“I almost fainted. It was a terrible shock, a terrible anxiety,” Esquino told Noticias Telemundo in an interview on Monday’s edition of “Al Rojo Vivo con Maria Celeste.” 

Esquino, 50, spoke on the record with Telemundo, revealing his activity in the aftermath of the tragic event.

“The first I thing I did was communicate with the authorities,” Esquino told Noticias Telemundo about his reaction to the news of the accident.

Esquino told Telemundo that he first met Rivera in 2010 and thought “she was very pleasant.” He went on to say that he had a flight contract with the star and had flown her on one of his planes “2 or 3 times.”

“There’s a contract that we sent Jenni,” said Esquino, who was unable to provide documentation to Telemundo.

Esquino also explained that as a rule, he generally advises against flying late at night. He said that one of the plane’s pilots spoke to Rivera’s team and told them “it was better not to fly overnight” immediately after Rivera’s sold-out concert at the Monterrey Arena.  Shortly after at 3 a.m., Rivera boarded the Learjet 25 which took off, under clear skies, headed toward Toluca, west of Mexico City, where she had been scheduled to tape the Mexican version of “The Voice” television show on which she was a judge.

According to Mexican authorities, the jet crashed 10 minutes and 62 miles into the flight, nose-diving 28,000 feet at a speed that might have exceeded 600 mph.

Even so, said Esquino, “this kind of accident is rare.” He also added that the pilots of the plane were in excellent health, but that the head pilot might have gone into cardiac arrest.

“These things happen,” said Esquino. “I could have a cardiac arrest right now.”

In the interview — part II of which will air tomorrow on  “Al Rojo Vivo con Maria Celeste” — Esquino also denied any ties to drug smugglers.

Esquino, a Mexican citizen, told Associated Press on Friday that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has been investigating him since the 1980s following his sale of a plane in Florida to notorious drug smuggler Robert Castoro, “who later used it as part of a massive smuggling operation,” reports NBC Los Angeles.

“The DEA has been investigating me my whole life,” Equino told the AP in a telephone interview from Mexico City. “They can investigate me all they want and they can investigate Starwood all they want, but they’re not going to find anything. I would have to be the smartest drug trafficker in the world to be able to stay away from a drug conviction with the DEA looking at me under a microscope for 20 years.”


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