Singer and Prince protégée Judith Hill has opened up about the night the “Purple Rain” musician's private plane was forced to make an emergency landing, less than a week before his death.
They were heading home after a late night concert in Atlanta. The plane took off at 12:51 a.m. and was less than an hour from its destination when Hill says she watched Prince fall unconscious.
She told The New York Times: "His eyes fixed. Thankfully, I happened to be looking into his face."
She said she immediately alerted another passenger, Prince’s longtime friend Kirk Johnson, the only other passenger on the plane.
Together they tried to wake the singer, shaking him and calling his name. But nothing worked so they alerted the pilot.
“We knew it was only a matter of time; we had to get down,” she said. “We didn’t have anything on the plane to help him.”
At 2:12 a.m. the pilot called air traffic controllers, saying he was making an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois.
Eighteen minutes after landing, an ambulance that was waiting on the tarmac took him to nearby Trinity Moline Hospital.
He was revived on the tarmac with a nasal shot of Narcan — often used to treat opioid overdoses. Nearly 20 minutes after landing prince was taken to a nearby hospital.
Hill, who auditioned for The Voice in 2013, says Prince was awake and talking by the time they arrived at the hospital, "which was such a relief to me, because I thought he was gone." She stayed by his side, comforting him through the night.
While in the hospital, the legendary singer told his protégée: “‘It’s only by God’s grace that I’m even here. I had to fight for my life. I remember hearing your voices from afar and saying to myself, ‘Follow the voices, follow the voices, get back in your body, you gotta to do this.’ And he said it was the hardest thing he’d ever done, to get back into his body like that.”
The 32-year-old has had her fair share of heartache.
Before Michael Jackson's untimely death, she sang back up for the pop star and was slated to sing a duet with him during his “This Is It” concerts in London in 2009 which never happened.
Now, she struggles to come to terms with the death of her mentor Prince, who produced her debut album.
“Now he’s gone, and I realize I was leaning on him a lot,” she said. “And that’s what’s scary. I’m on my own.”