ENTERTAINMENT

Prince Protégée Recalls Emergency Plane Landing The Week Before His Death

Prince was later found dead at his Minneapolis compound.

Less than a week before music icon Prince died at 57, the singer's private plane made an emergency landing in Illinois after he lost consciousness on the trip back from a concert in Atlanta.

Aboard the plane was the singer's close friend and protégée, 32-year-old singer Judith Hill, who opened up to The New York Times about being one of the few people on the aircraft. Hill and Prince had been talking over dinner, when she watched as Prince's eyes "fixed," and he slipped into unconsciousness. 

"We knew it was only a matter of time; we had to get down," Hill said of the emergency landing. "We didn’t have anything on the plane to help him."

The plane landed at 1:17 a.m. in Moline, Illinois, where paramedics gave the singer a shot of Narcan, which is used to treat opioid overdoses. Prince was then taken to the hospital, and by the time he got there, Hill said he was alert and talkative

Singer Judith Hill arrives in Beverly Hills, California, on Apr. 20, 2016.
Singer Judith Hill arrives in Beverly Hills, California, on Apr. 20, 2016.

"He wasn't dreary or drowsy or anything," the singer said. "He wanted to watch 'Zootopia.' He loved those films. I was going to pull it up on my phone. He said: 'No, no, no, not here. We're going to pick a special time and place to watch that.'" 

Though Hill declined to talk about the type of treatment Prince received that night, she says she tipped off friends in his inner circle about his health scare -- the Times states that a few people close to Prince already knew of his addiction to painkillers.

Just a few days later, Prince was found dead at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota. According to a report released by the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in early June, Prince died from an overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opiate nearly 80 times more potent than morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin. For Hill, the death was especially difficult to fathom considering Prince had seemed "cooperative" and "serious about getting help" after his hospital scare. 

"And that’s the part that breaks my heart, because he was trying," Hill said. "He was trying." 

To read the rest of Hill's interview with the New York Times, head here.

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