As those words were spoken to Air Traffic Control, Prince, the 57-year-old music legend, was nearly lifeless in the cabin of his private plane.
In response to the emergency call, EMTs met the musician’s jet early on April 15 at Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois. Within hours, Prince apparently would be well enough to get back in the air -- headed to his home in the Minneapolis area. He would not live another week.
“What’s the nature of the emergency?” asks the controller at Chicago Center.
The reply was a straightforward: “Unresponsive passenger.”
Prince’s mid-air emergency occurred as his plane closed in on Minnesota en route from Atlanta, where he had played two concerts. Entertainer Judith Hill told The New York Times that she was with Prince on the flight and watched as he lost consciousness. She said she was “very freaked out” as the emergency took hold in the cabin.
On the ground in Moline, no one seemed to know who their inbound patient was -- or even if it was a man or woman.
“Hi, this Heath at airport dispatch,” is how one call opens. “I just got a call from Chicago Center. We’ve got an aircraft inbound. It’s going to be medical for an unresponsive passenger. We’re requesting an ambulance to meet an officer at Gate 1, West Gate.”
The dispatcher replies: “I’m sorry, unresponsive?”
“Yes,” he replies. “And it looks like the aircraft is just circling around the airport right now for the landing.”
The dispatcher signs off: “OK. We’ll get an ambulance up there.”
The flight landed as directed at 1:17 a.m. Medics tended to the star for nearly 20 minutes and the ambulance raced off with lights and sirens going at 1:35 a.m.