Kate Middleton's nurse found dead after prank by radio hosts
Updated On: Dec 07 2012 03:58:10 PM CST
The two Australian radio hosts who prank called the hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated have been pulled off the air "until further notice" after the hoaxed nurse was found dead today.
"Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and 2Day FM are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha from King Edward VII's Hospital and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family and all that have been affected by this situation around the world," the radio station said in a statement posted on their Facebook page.
The station's chief executive spoke with the DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, and "they are both deeply shocked," the statement said. The parties agreed that the hosts would not comment on the situation.
"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," the statement said.
In the Tuesday morning prank call, information about the duchess' condition was released by a nurse to Greig and Christian when they pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles looking to speak to Middleton, who was being treated at the hospital for acute nausea related to her pregnancy.
When the royal impersonators called the hospital, Saldanha put through to a second nurse who told the royal impersonators that Kate was "quite stable" and hadn't "had any retching."
"It is with very deep sadness that we confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff," the hospital said in a statement released today.
"We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital," the statement said. "The hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time."
The hospital said that Saldanha worked at the hospital for more than four years. They called her a "first-class nurse" and "a well-respected and popular member of the staff."
The hospital extended their "deepest sympathies" to family and friends, saying that "everyone is shocked" at this "tragic event."
"She will be greatly missed," the hospital said.
"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha," a spokesman from St. James Palace said in a statement.
"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.
Police were called to an address near the hospital at about 9:35 a.m. GT today to "reports of a woman found unconscious," according to a statement from Scotland Yard.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. "Inquiries continue to establish the circumstances of the incident. Next of kin have been informed," the statement said.
Circumstances of the death being investigated, but are not suspicious at this stage, according to police.
The duchess spent three days at the hospital undergoing treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum, severe or debilitating nausea and vomiting. She was released from the hospital on Thursday morning.
The Tuesday morning prank call came from Australian DJ's Mel Greig and Michael Christian. They impersonated the royals, complete with exaggerated accents. They even enlisted two co-workers to bark like the queen's pet corgis.
The Sydney radio station, 2DayFM, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Twitter accounts of both radio personalities have been deactivated, but it is unknown when the accounts were shut down. The DJ's are being heavily criticized on Twitter, with many people calling for them to resign or be fired.
"I'm just after my granddaughter, Kate. I want to see how her little tummy bug is going," the radio host said in the prank call, suppressing laughter.
"She's sleeping at the moment, and she has had an uneventful night and sleep is good for her," the nurse said. "She's been getting some fluids to rehydrate her because she was quite dehydrated when she came in, but she's stable at the moment."
The fake royals went on to ask when would be a good time to visit and were told that "anytime after 9 o'clock would be suitable."
"She's quite stable at the moment. She hasn't had any retching ... since I've been on duty. And she has been sleeping on and off. I think it's difficult sleeping in a strange bed as well," the nurse said.
The hospital apologized for the mistake.
"The call was transferred through to a ward, and a short conversation was held with one of the nursing staff," the hospital said in a statement. "King Edward VII's Hospital deeply regrets this incident."
"This was a foolish prank call that we all deplore," John Lofthouse, the hospital's chief executive, said in the statement. "We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously, and we are now reviewing our telephone protocols."
The radio station also apologized for the prank call.
"2Day FM sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience caused by the inquiry to Kate's hospital. The radio segment was done with lighthearted intentions," the station said in a statement.
"We were very surprised that our call was put through. We thought we'd be hung up on as soon as they heard our terrible accents," the radio hosts said in the statement. "We're very sorry if we've caused any issues, and we're glad to hear that Kate is doing well. We wish Kate and her family all the best."
ABC News' Bruno Roeber contributed to this report.