Nurse Duped By Kate Middleton Royal Prank Call Found Dead in Apparent Suicide
A nurse who was duped by two Australian radio DJs seeking information on Kate Middleton's hospitalization earlier this week has been found dead in an apparent suicide, according to the hospital.
In a statement to TVGuide.com, King Edward VII Hospital said that Jacintha Saldanha was found dead Friday morning near the hospital and was the recent "victim of a hoax call." Scotland Yard is treating the death as a possible suicide.
"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies at this time are with her family and friends," hospital CEO John Lofthouse said in the statement. "Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much-loved and valued colleague."
On Tuesday, Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian called the hospital at 5:30 a.m. as part of their show. Greig and Christian put on British accents and pretended to be the Queen of England and Prince Charles, asking to speak with "my granddaughter Kate," who was hospitalized Monday for acute morning sickness. Saldanha, who was working at the reception desk at the time, patched the call through to another employee, who provided details about Middleton's condition that were broadcast on the air. Audio of the prank call was published by several websites Wednesday and Thursday.
The hospital added Friday that it had been "supporting [Saldanha] throughout this difficult time."
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After a public rebuke from the hospital, the radio station issued an apology Wednesday, saying: "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. We're very sorry if we've caused any issues and we're glad to hear that Kate is doing well."
Friday afternoon, the station, 2Day FM, and its parent company issued the following statement on its Facebook page: "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. 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. 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."
Middleton, who was discharged Thursday, and Prince William also issued a statement Friday after hearing the news. "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha," the statement read. "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."
Saldanha had worked at the hospital for more than four years. Her family has asked that the media respect their privacy in a statement released Friday, obtained by E! Online. "We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha... We would request that you direct your questions and queries through the police press office."