Prince too weak to walk off plane after emergency landing; bodyguard carried him, records reveal

Prince performing in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in 2010. (Reuters/Jumana El-Heloueh)

A week before his unexpected death, Prince was so weak that his bodyguard had to carry him off a private jet when the aircraft made an emergency landing in the middle of the night in western Illinois, according to fire and ambulance records released Tuesday.

The records do not indicate the reason for the iconic musician’s illness shortly after 1 a.m. on April 15.

Prince had played a show at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta hours before and was aboard a Dassault Falcon 900 en route to Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport when the jet was diverted to Quad City International Airport in Moline, Ill., about 30 minutes before its scheduled landing, according to flight records. The aircraft, according to flight information, descended 45,000 feet in 17 minutes.

SLIDESHOW: Music legend Prince is dead — the world mourns >>>

In an FAA audio recording of the incident, an unidentified person can be heard telling the control tower that an “unresponsive passenger” is the reason for the emergency landing.

According to records Yahoo News obtained through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, the Moline Fire Department — which has its own EMTs and ambulances — received a medical call to go to the airport at 1:15 a.m.


Two minutes later, the fire department dispatched two vehicles and five firefighter-paramedics to the scene. Call logs show that a truck with three personnel got to the airport runway in seven minutes.

“T12 arrived first and began pt care pt was carried down from an airplane by pts body guard,” a firefighter noted about the patient in a report.

Prince was then transported to a nearby hospital. The report does not disclose which hospital.

The 12 pages released to Yahoo News are largely redacted. Moline officials said they declined to release many details involved with the call due to federal patient privacy laws and privacy exemptions under the Illinois public records law.

“Private information in this particular request includes home address, medical information, medical record number, hospital name, biometric identifiers and signatures,” the city stated in a letter to Yahoo News.

According to flight records, Prince’s private plane was in Illinois for nearly 10 hours before departing for Minneapolis again shortly before 11 a.m. The plane landed in Minneapolis 48 minutes later.

Prince’s publicist later said he was treated for flu-like symptoms. Another source close to the musician reportedly blamed the emergency landing on dehydration, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


Six days after the emergency landing, members of Prince’s staff couldn’t reach him at Paisley Park, a 65,000-square-foot complex that doubled as the reclusive singer’s recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minn.

In a frantic 911 call at 9:43 a.m. on April 21, an unidentified person asked for help after finding the music star unconscious on the floor of an elevator at his estate. First responders arrived within minutes and tried unsuccessfully to revive him. Prince, 57, was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m. Authorities said his death is under investigation, and that results of an autopsy might not be released for several weeks.

“Between us and the medical examiner, we will be looking at all of that,” Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said about the emergency landing in Illinois.

The Star Tribune, citing unidentified sources, reported Tuesday that Prince’s overdose of an opioid prompted the emergency landing. According to the newspaper, once the plane landed, emergency personnel gave Prince a shot of the opioid antidote Narcan. TMZ, citing unidentified sources, has reported that an overdose of Percocet, a painkiller containing acetaminophen and the opioid oxycodone, caused his illness in the air.

Meanwhile, lawyers in Minneapolis have given conflicting statements regarding the singer’s possible drug use. On Monday, Prince’s longtime lawyer called the death of the superstar a complete shock and said that the singer lived a clean and healthy lifestyle, disputing suggestions that he had a drug addiction. But an attorney for two of Prince’s siblings tells the Star Tribune and investigators that his clients revealed to him more than 10 years ago that Prince had “substantial” problems with Percocet and cocaine.

The records released to Yahoo News on Tuesday include a one-page invoice from the City of Moline, sent four days after Prince’s death. The invoice, which is partly redacted, seeks $1,407.30 for the city’s response to the emergency call.

Jason Sickles is a national reporter for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter (@jasonsickles).