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Prince Protege Recalls Singer’s Harrowing Emergency Plane Landing

”We knew it was only a matter of time; we had to get down,“ Judith Hill tells The New York Times

When Prince’s flight was rerouted due to a medical emergency the week before his death, the legendary singer’s protege Judith Hill was one of the only other people on board. In fact, she was the first to alert the crew of the singer’s health condition.

Hill broke her silence about the incident in an interview with The New York Times Tuesday, describing the way the “Purple Rain” singer’s “eyes fixed” during their conversation on the plane, immediately indicating that something was wrong.

“We knew it was only a matter of time; we had to get down,” Hill said.

The plane’s emergency landing was initially attributed to flu-like symptoms, but Prince’s health emergency was eventually revealed to be related to an accidental overdose. He would be discovered dead in his home in Minnesota six days later on April 21 due to an overdose of the painkiller fentanyl.

“That was definitely the worst day of my life,” Hill told the Times. “I couldn’t believe anything that painful could happen.”

Hill appeared on NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” in 2013, and was featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary “20 Feet From Stardom.” According to the Times, she came under Prince’s tutelage after naming him as her dream collaborator in an interview.

But for all the time the two artists spent together — she described their relationship as “very intense,” and said Prince had previously told her he loved her and would always be there for her — Hill said she never knew how much pain he was in following his hip surgery.

“I only know what everyone knows about his pain — I read about it,” she said. “He was quick on his feet. Never said anything, that this is hurting, never a sign of struggle. That’s why it’s all very shocking.”