According to a new book, Aaliyah was carried unconscious onto the plane before the fatal crash after she refused to board.
According to the new book by music journalist Kathy Landoli, singer Aaliyah never insisted on boarding the small private plane that crashed 20 years ago, killing her and the other passengers.
In the book 'Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah', Landoli interviews Kingsley Russell, a baggage carrier who worked for his family's taxi company in the Bahamas, where Aaliyah and her crew were filming the singer's final music video, "Rock the Boat."
Russell, now 33, claims he was with Aaliyah, 22, before the plane took off, as his stepmother was transporting the singer and her entourage to the airport.
He claims that, contrary to reports that surfaced after the crash, Aaliyah repeatedly refused to board the plane. After informing her team that she had a headache and needed a nap, she was given a sleeping pill. The singer then passed out in the back of the taxi and was carried onto the plane unconscious.
Russell stated that it is unclear whether the singer was aware that the pill she was offered was a sleeping pill rather than something to treat her headache.
"They took her out of the van; she had no idea she was about to board a plane. She went on the plane asleep", Russell said to Landoli.
According to the book, the pilot and airport personnel warned Aaliyah's entourage that they, along with their video equipment and luggage, created too much weight for the plane to safely reach altitude. Her team was adamant about arriving in Miami the next day and ignored the pilot's pleas.
The small twin-engine plane crashed moments after take-off, more than two hours behind schedule.
"The airport staff and Aaliyah had the common sense to realize that the plane was overweight," Russell writes in his book.
Aaliyah suffered severe burns and head trauma, and the coroner's office determined that even if she had survived, her recovery would have been nearly impossible.
"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," Landoli told The Daily Beast. "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. She deserved better."