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According to a bombshell new book on her life, R&B singer and actress Aaliyah didn’t want to board the flight that cost the rising star her life.
After remaining silent for decades, an eyewitness has alleged that the singer was given a sleeping pill and carried — unconscious — onto the suspect aircraft before her fatal 2001 crash in the Bahamas.
The shocking allegation was dropped in a new biography, “Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah,” by music journalist Kathy Iandoli.
“They took her out of the van; she didn’t even know she was getting boarded on a plane,” stated Kingsley Russell, 33, who was with Aaliyah — full name Aaliyah Dana Haughton — just before the fateful flight, the Daily Mail reported. “She went on the airplane asleep.”
The then 13-year-old Russell, whose family ran a taxi company in the Abaco Islands, was in the cab as his mom drove the five-time Grammy winner and her team to the airport for their return flight to Miami. The 22-year-old Aaliyah had just wrapped shooting the music video for her hit single “Rock the Boat,” and her team was eager to get back to the US.
However, Aaliyah — who was an anxious flyer — allegedly had reservations about boarding the aircraft after learning that it was overweight. The pilot had reportedly explained that the aircraft would be too cumbersome with eight passengers, including Aaliyah’s 300-pound bodyguard, as well as their bags and cameras, the Daily Beast reported.
The “Romeo Must Die” actress supposedly grew even more flustered when they arrived at the airport and spotted the small plane. Claiming she had a headache, the Brooklyn native fell asleep in the cab while her team sorted out the mess, according to Russell’s testimony.
A little while later, the hip-hopper’s crew returned to see what was amiss, whereupon Aaliyah reiterated her concerns. Russell claimed that, at this point, one of her team handed the “Loose Rap” singer a sleeping pill, causing her to fall into a deep sleep, after which they carried an unconscious Aaliyah onto the plane.
The vocalist’s worst fears were realized just after takeoff. The small, two-engine Cessna failed to gain altitude and crashed about 200 feet from the end of the runway, killing Aaliyah and all eight members of her entourage.
A subsequent autopsy revealed that Aaliyah had suffered extensive burns and severe head trauma, which had rendered her chances of survival “unthinkable,” the Daily Beast reported.
It later emerged that the tiny aircraft had exceeded its allotted weight by several hundred pounds, the New York Times reported. In addition, the weight was improperly distributed, making the aircraft difficult to control while in the air. Meanwhile, the pilot had reportedly faked his license and was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine at the time of the accident, according to a 2002 toxicology report.
The revelation ran counter to reports at the time, which claimed that Aaliyah was insistent about boarding the flight.
“I remember when Aaliyah passed away, I was really upset,” Iandoli told the Daily Beast. “The story kept saying that she was adamant about getting on the plane. I was almost upset with her. Why did you want to get on that plane so badly?”
Unfortunately, Russell’s testimony hasn’t provided the author much closure.
“The only thing I’ve taken with me is that after 20 years, I can finally say that Aaliyah didn’t want to get on the plane,” she added. “That makes me feel a little better, but not much. This didn’t have to happen. She should still be here, and I think that’s the saddest part about it.”