Nurse who took Kate prank call found dead

Nurse who took Kate prank call found dead

Nurse who took Kate prank call found dead

Updated 8 December 2012, 7:24 AEDT

A nurse who took a prank call at the hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife Catherine has been found dead.

A nurse who answered a prank call from an Australian radio station about the condition of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge has been found dead.

Jacintha Saldanha, who took the prank call and transferred it through to a duty nurse, was found dead in her apartment.

Police say they are not treating her death as suspicious.

Earlier this week, 2Day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian called the hospital posing as the Queen and Prince Charles.

They were put through to the ward where Kate was being treated and given details about how she was faring.

The King Edward VII hospital has released a statement, confirming that the nurse had been one of those to fall victim to the prank.

"It is with very deep sadness that we confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha," the hospital said in a statement.

"We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital had been supporting her."

Police said they had been called at 9:35am (local time) about a woman found unconscious at an address near the hospital.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene by ambulance staff.

The hospital's chief executive John Lofthouse says Ms Saldanha had been offered support after the cruel hoax.

Mr Lofthouse says she was "an excellent nurse".

The announcement on Monday that Kate was pregnant with a future British king or queen sparked a media frenzy and generated worldwide interest.

William and Kate, who left the hospital on Thursday, said they were "deeply saddened" by the death.

"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," said a statement from William's office said.

Station apologises

The radio station behind the prank has released a statement expressing its "deepest sympathies" over Ms Saldanha's death.

"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," the statement said.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and all that have been affected by this situation around the world."
The statement said both presenters are shocked and will not be returning to 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 statement said.

"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."

Outpouring of anger

There has been an outpouring of anger on social media against 2Day FM from around the world.

News of the Ms Saldanha's death broke after midnight in Australia, but around the world the reaction was swift.

The station's Facebook page was immediately flooded with angry posts, while the story has dominated Twitter in the UK, with thousands of people calling for the presenters to be fired.

Greig and Christian have both deleted their Twitter accounts.

2Day FM has also removed a clip from its website which featured the two hosts proudly discussing the prank call.

Facebook tribute pages swiftly set up after the nurse's death attracted messages of sympathy, some calling for the radio station to pay compensation to her family and others for the presenters to resign.

The hospital issued a statement after the prank was revealed saying it deeply regretted the incident and said it was reviewing its "telephone protocols".

The Australian radio station had previously apologised for the call, saying it was done with the "best intentions".

ABC/Reuters