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Prank Call Results in Tragedy with the Death of Nurse

It was a prank call that the two radio personalities in Australia, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, thought would never be put through. But it was put through, to the duchess’s ward, and they were even given some details concerning her medical condition.

Greg and Christian were posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. They believed that their bad accents would give them away, and whoever answered the phone at the hospital would hang up on them.

Greg said, “We wanted to be hung up on with our silly voices. It was never meant to go that far. It was meant to be a silly little prank that so many people have done before.”

Christian said, “We assumed that we’d be hung up on, and that would be that.”

Prank call put through

However, the nurse who put the prank call through to the ward where the duchess was, was found dead on Friday, December 7, 2012, of an apparent suicide. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, December 11, 2012, to determine the cause of death.

Jacintha Saldanha was the 46-year-old nurse who had put the prank call through. King Edward VII Hospital said that Saldanha had worked at the hospital for over four years and was “an excellent” nurse, who was well-respected by her co-workers.

In a statement, the hospital said that they “had been supporting her throughout this difficult time.” Saldanha is survived by her husband and two children.

The nurse’s name was only released by authorities after her death. Until her death, authorities would not release her name to the British media.

Tearful apologies

On Monday, December 10, 2012, the two radio personalities who perpetrated the prank call made tearful apologies. Greg and Christian were both crying at times during the apology. They told two Australian television shows that their thoughts were with Jacintha Saldanha’s family.

On the program “Today Tonight,” Greig said, “I’m very sorry and saddened for the family, and I can’t imagine what they’ve been going through.”

On the same show, Christian said, “For the part we played, we’re incredibly sorry.“ He went on to describe himself as “gutted, shattered and heartbroken.”

The two Australian radio personalities said that the idea for the prank call came from a production meeting that took place before their 2DayFM show. The prank call was to capitalize on the hottest topic in the news, which was Catherine’s pregnancy.

No say on airing

In their interviews on Monday, both of the radio personalities emphasized that while they were the ones who made the prank call to the hospital, they had no say at all on whether it would be aired. They added that the call was recorded and then went through a vetting process at their network, which is Southern Cross Austereo, before it was broadcast over the air.

Of the prank call, Christian said, “This was put through every filter that everything is put through before it makes it to air.” However, Christian added that he did not know what that vetting process involved.

Christian went on to say, “I’m certainly not aware of what filters it needs to pass through. Our role is just to record and get the audio.”

The two radio personalities have been taken off the air by their network. The network has not said when they might return to the air.