An Eyewitness Account of Prince’s Near-Fatal Plane Ride

Six days before he died of an opiate overdose, Prince’s private plane had to make an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, en route from Atlanta to Minneapolis. Singer and Prince protegé Judith Hill was right in front of him when things suddenly went very, very wrong. Her account of the event corroborates what many people thought happened. It certainly wasn’t a case of the flu. She told her story to the New York Times.

It’s the moment that Judith Hill has been replaying in her mind for the last two months: She was sitting on a plane with a man she loved, talking, having dinner, when suddenly he lost consciousness. She shouted his name: Prince. She shook him. But he didn’t come to.

Her swift reaction may have helped save Prince’s life that night, six days before he died of an accidental overdose of the opioid painkiller fentanyl.

“His eyes fixed,” just before he nodded off across a table from her, Ms. Hill, 32, recalled in an interview here, speaking for the first time about her presence on the April 15 flight from Atlanta, after Prince’s two shows there. Only one other passenger was on the private jet, Prince’s longtime friend and aide Kirk Johnson. They were bound for Paisley Park, Prince’s estate outside Minneapolis. Over vegetables and pasta, Prince and Ms. Hill discussed his performances that night, which turned out to be his last public concerts; other musicians like the funk singer Betty Davis; and photography, one of Prince’s hobbies.

According to flight-tracking reports, the chartered 1988 Dassault Falcon 900 took off at 12:51 a.m. from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and was near Chicago, less than an hour from its destination, when Ms. Hill witnessed Prince fall unconscious. If she had glanced away in that instant, down at her phone or purse, she might have thought he had simply dozed off. “Thankfully, I happened to be looking into his face,” she said.

You’ll want to read the rest of the story–including confirmation of the Narcan shot–here.

 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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