Prince protégée Judith Hill spoke to The New York Times about the scary experience she endured in April when a plane carrying Prince was forced to make an emergency landing just a few days before the late pop star’s death. A few hours after taking off from Atlanta, Hill, who was traveling with Prince, noticed him go unconscious. “Thankfully, I happened to be looking into his face,” she told the NYT.
Hill says she was able to immediately summon help from Prince’s aide Kirk Johnson. “We knew it was only a matter of time; we had to get down,” Hill said. “We didn’t have anything on the plane to help him.”
Hill recalls being very upset and “freaked out” as Prince remained unresponsive throughout the plane’s entire descent. When they landed, paramedics were waiting on the tarmac, and they revived Prince with the anti-overdose drug Narcan. By the time they got him to the hospital, he was awake again. This came as a huge relief for Hill. “I thought he was gone,” she said. She recalled him taking the event very seriously. “He was very cooperative that whole night,” she said, “serious about getting help.”
Unfortunately, this help would never come. Prince died of an opioid overdose just six days later in his Paisley Park home in Minnesota. He was 57. “Now he’s gone, and I realize I was leaning on him a lot,” Hill said. “And that’s what’s scary. I’m on my own.”
Still, Hill remembers his determined spirit, even in the face of hardship. She says Prince told her he had to “fight for his life” during the emergency landing. “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,'” Prince said, according to Hill. “And he said it was the hardest thing he’d ever done, to get back into his body like that.”