Days before Prince was found dead at his Paisley Park recording complex, the music icon was flying on a private jet that was forced to make an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois after he lost consciousness. He was transported to a hospital and released three hours later.
Flying with Prince that day was his protégée, Judith Hill, who recently opened up to the New York Times about the frightening flight on April 15.
"His eyes fixed," Hill recounted, detailing the moments before the Purple Rain star passed out. Aside from Hill and Prince, the only other passenger was the singer's longtime friend, Kirk Johnson. The trio were flying from Atlanta, Georgia to Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Hill says that if she hadn't been talking with Prince when he lost consciousness, she would have thought he'd just dozed off. "Thankfully, I happened to be looking into his face" Hill said.
Acting quickly, Hill alerted Johnson and the pilot, who called air traffic controllers in Chicago for assistance. "We knew it was only a matter of time; we had to get down," Hill recalled. "We didn’t have anything on the plane to help him."
According to the 32-year-old singer, who was "very freaked out" during the incident, she kept trying to wake the 57-year-old music legend. They shook him and called his name to no avail as the plane descended.
They were met by an ambulance when they landed, and carried Prince to the Trinity Moline Hospital. By the time the ambulance pulled up to the medical center, Hill says Prince was communicative once again.
"[It] was such a relief to me, because I thought he was gone," Hill explained.
At the time, it was reported that Prince had been suffering from flu-like symptoms. However, it was later revealed that he was suffering from the effects of a painkiller overdose.
"He wasn’t dreary or drowsy, or anything," Hill said, recounting Prince's mood and behavior while being treated in Moline. "He was very cooperative that whole night [and] serious about getting help."
Six days after being released from Trinity Moline Hospital the celebrated songwriter was found dead from what would eventually be determined to be an overdose of the opioid painkiller Fentanyl.
"That was definitely the worst day of my life," Hill said. "I couldn’t believe anything that painful could happen."
In the months since his death, The Voice alum and former Michael Jackson backup singer says she's come to realize the impact Prince had on her life and the level of involvement he had in her career and growth as an artist. "Now he's gone, and I realize I was leaning on him a lot," Hill shared. "And that’s what’s scary. I'm on my own."
For more on the life and legacy of the beloved musician, watch the video below.