Michael Christian and Mel Greig
Michael Christian and Mel Greig, the Australian DJs who prank called the London hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated, say they're "shattered" and "devastated" by the subsequent suicide of the nurse who fielded the call.
In interviews with two Australian talk shows, Christian and Grieg said they never expected the stunt would result in the death of Jacintha Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two. "We're still trying to get our heads around everything, trying to make sense of the situation," Christian told Australia's Today Tonight. "I don't think that anyone could have predicted what could have happened. It was just a tragic set of circumstances."
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"It doesn't seem real because you just couldn't foresee something like that happening from a prank call," Grieg added. "It was never meant to go that far. It was meant to be a silly little prank that so many people have done before. This wasn't meant to happen."
The DJs, who host a show for Australia's 2day FM, have voluntarily suspended themselves from the station in the wake of Saldanha's death. When asked when or if they'd be returning to work, a tearful Grieg said that's the least of their worries right now. "Our careers aren't important in the moment," she said. "There is nothing that can make me feel worse than what I feel right now and for what I feel for the family. We are so sorry that this has happened to them."
The station's parent company, Southern Cross Austereo Media, issued a statement Monday saying it was pulling Grieg and Christian's show, Hot 30, off the air immediately, in addition to suspending all advertising on the station until further notice and implementing a company-wide ban on prank calls, as well as a "comprehensive review" of company policies and procedures.
Grieg added that she and Christian have not reached out to Saldanha's family because they don't feel it would be appropriate to do so. But, she said, they wanted to use the televised interview "to say that we are thinking of you, and if we could call you we would want to reach out to you. If we played any involvement in her death, then we're very sorry for that."
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In a call to the hospital last week, Grieg and Christian pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, putting on poor British accents and asking for information about Middleton, who was hospitalized with severe morning sickness at the time. Saldanha answered the call at the reception desk and patched it through to Middleton's room, where a nurse provided detailed information about Middleton's well-being, thinking she was speaking to members of the Royal Family.
"The call ... wasn't about speaking to Kate," Christian told Today Tonight. "It wasn't about trying to get a scoop or anything. I mean, we assumed that we'd be hung up on and that would be that. ... The joke was always on us, not anyone else. It wasn't about trying to fool someone. We just assumed with the voices that we put on, we were going to get told off and that was the gag."
The interview was broadcast on Christian and Grieg's show, and picked up by websites and news outlets around the world. Two days later, Saldanha was found unconscious near the hospital and was pronounced dead by the time police arrived at the scene.
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After being released from the hospital last week, Middleton suffered another setback this weekend, a St. James Palace spokesperson told Us Weekly, resulting in Prince William pulling out of an official engagement Sunday to tend to his wife.
Watch Grieg and Christian's Today Tonight interview here. Do you think they're to blame for Saldanha's death?