Hospital in Kate Middleton hoax blasts radio station after nurse's death
The head of an Australian broadcast company that aired a prank call to a London hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife said Saturday that no one could have foreseen its tragic aftermath.
But hospital officials, mourning the death of nurse Jacintha Saldhana, 46, demanded steps be taken to make sure such an incident never happens again.
Saldhana last week was one of two nurses who unwittingly accepted a call by two Australian DJs. The callers, posing as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, inquired about the former Kate Middleton's morning-sickness condition.
Saldhana was found dead Friday. Police have not yet determined Saldanha's cause of death, but people from London to Sydney have been making the assumption that she died because of stress from the call.
King Edward VII's Hospital sent a letter to the 2DayFM radio station's parent company, Southern Cross Austereo, condemning the "truly appalling" hoax and urging measures to ensure such an incident never happens again.
"The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients," the letter read. "The longer term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words."
DJs Mel Grieg and Michael Christia have left the air indefinitely. Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, said the pair have been offered counseling.
No one could have predicted the tragedy, he said.
"I spoke to both presenters early this morning and it's fair to say they're completely shattered," Holleran told reporters Saturday. "These people aren't machines, they're human beings," he said.