- By Anissa Nahnah
One week on why do we still not know?
Prince Rogers Nelson aged 57 was confirmed as dead on the 21st April 2016 in a day that has brought tears and statements from celebrities, officials and civilians from around the world.
On 7th April 2016, Prince postponed two performances from his Piano & A Microphone Tour, at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta; the venue released a statement saying he had influenza. Prince rescheduled and performed the show on 14th April, despite not recovering. While flying back to Minneapolis early the morning of the 15th, he became unresponsive, and his private jet made an emergency landing at Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois, so that he could receive medical treatment. Representatives said he suffered from “bad dehydration” and had had influenza for several weeks. Prince was seen bicycling the next day in his hometown of Chanhassen, Minnesota. He shopped that evening at the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis for Record Store Day, and made a brief appearance at a dance party at his Paisley Park recording studio complex, stating that he felt recovered.
On 19th April, he attended a performance by singer Lizz Wright at the Dakota Jazz Club.
On 21st April, at 09:43 local time the Carver County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 emergency phone call requesting that an ambulance be sent to Prince’s home at Paisley Park. The caller initially told the dispatcher that Prince was unconscious, then moments later reported that Prince appeared to be dead. Emergency responders found Prince unresponsive in an elevator and performed CPR, but were unable to revive him; he was pronounced dead at 10:07 local time. Following an autopsy, his remains have now been cremated; their location to be kept private.
So why, almost exactly one week on do we still not know the cause of death?
Wild rumors from the low brow sewage of tabloid media have made wild and possibly even liable claims that they categorically know the cause of death to be: AIDS, influenza, suicide, murder, accidental overdose of prescription medicine, sleep deprivation after working 157 hours straight with out rest and many other quack conspiracy theories and lies. The UK’s trash tabloid newspapers have perhaps come up with the most inconsistent and shockingly sensationalist “factual” claims.
In reality we might not know what killed pop superstar Prince for weeks or even months. While forensic themed TV shows make it look quick and easy, and the technology has improved, modern death investigations still take some considerable time.
The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minnesota, performed the autopsy on the 57-year-old musician on Friday 22nd April 2016. Dr. A. Quinn Strobl finished the procedure in four hours, according to the office, but Dr. Strobl won’t declare what caused Prince’s death until after the office gathers all of the relevant details.
In a case such as this, the medical examiner’s office does a routine but complicated kind of detective work which relies on reaching out to family members and doctors to gather medical history and understand what prescriptions the person was taking. The office might examine the scene of the person’s death. Tissue samples will be sent out for lab tests, and it will want results double checking and reconfirmed. This investigation happens to fall under the jurisdiction of offices that typically juggle dozens of cases at once.
“When ‘Star Trek’ is real, you’ll have a tricorder that can determine what happened to someone immediately, but it doesn’t work that way yet,” said Kevin Lothridge, CEO of the National Forensic Science Technology Center. “The technology is a lot faster than it used to be, but there has to be quality assurance in the lab to corroborate what you may have found in the field.”
A very intrusive process