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Nurse who took prank 'royal' call found dead; DJs now off the air

December 07, 2012|By Christie D'Zurilla

The nurse who took a prank call aimed at getting through to a hospitalized Duchess Kate this week was found dead in her London apartment Friday — and the Australian disc jockeys behind the call have been taken off the air until further notice.

The death of Jacintha Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two, was confirmed by the chief executive of King Edward VII Hospital, World Now reported.

"Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII Hospital for more than four years," John Lofthouse told reporters. "She was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues. We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital had been supporting her through this very difficult time."

Scotland Yard was classifying the cause of death, which British media have characterized as a suicide, as "unexplained."

DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian have shut down their Twitter accounts and, according to Australian media company Southern Cross Austereo, are off the air until further notice.

"Chief Executive Officer Rhys Holleran has spoken with the presenters, they are both deeply shocked and at this time we have agreed that they not comment about the circumstances," the company said on its Facebook page. "SCA and the hosts have decided that they will not return to their radio show until further notice out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy."

Commenters on Facebook were blaming the DJs for Saldanha's death. In the aftermath of the call, which had Greig and Christian pretending to be the queen and Prince Charles, the two had crowed publicly, including on Twitter, about their successful prank, which was taped Tuesday night and broadcast Wednesday morning.

While the call was being made, Christian told Greig, "If this has worked, it’s the easiest prank call we’ve ever made. Your accent sucked by the way, I just wanted you to know."

The royal family issued a statement Friday as well. 

"Their royal highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time,” the statement said.

A St. James's Palace spokesman said there had been no complaint from the palace about the call, Sky News reported. "On the contrary," he said, "we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times."

The duchess, who was admitted to the hospital early Monday with hyperemesis gravidarum, or acute morning sickness, was released Wednesday. The former Kate Middleton is less than 12 weeks pregnant.


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