Tags: Australian | DJs | Royal | Hoax

Australian DJs 'Heartbroken' Over Nurse's Suicide Following Prank Call

Monday, 10 December 2012 07:50 AM EST

Australian radio bosses have pulled the plug on the embattled morning show that staged a phone prank on Prince William’s pregnant wife, resulting in the suicide of a nurse who answered the call.

The cancellation of the popular show on 2DayFM came as the disc jockeys who orchestrated the hoax broke down in tears as they apologized for their role in it and told of their agony over the suicide of nurse and mother-of-two Jacintha Saldanha.

"There's not a minute that goes by that we don't think about her family and what they must be going through," deejay Mel Greig said on Australia's "A Current Affair.’’

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"And the thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching … These prank calls are made every day, on every radio station, in every country around the world and they have been for a long time and no one could’ve imagined this to happen.’’

She insisted the prank was just a case of business as usual at the station.
“You prank someone, you record it, then it goes by the other departments to work out what they want to do with it. It’s been done for years. It was routine for us. It wasn’t anything different,’’ Greig said.

Asked how they reacted when told of Saldanha’s death, Greig and fellow deejay Michael Christian broke down in tears, Greig calling it "gut wrenching," the worst phone call of her life.

"Shattered, gutted, heartbroken,’’ Christian added. “ And obviously you know... our deepest sympathies are with the family and the friends."

"I remember my first question was, 'Was she a mother?'" Greig told another television show “Today Tonight.’’

Along with their popular morning show being cancelled, Greig and Christian “will not return to the airwaves until further notice,’’ the Southern Cross Austereo radio network said in a statement.

The company has also banned phone pranks and suspended commercials until further notice.

"I am deeply sorry. These guys are deeply sorry,’’ Rhys Holleran, the network's chief executive officer said on Australia’s Channel 10 Monday morning.

“This is just a tragic event, this is not something anyone could have reasonably foreseen.’’

Last Tuesday, Grieg and Christian — badly impersonating Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles — called the King Edward the VII Hospital where Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was being treated for acute morning sickness.

Saldanha answered the call and transferred it to another nurse who then under questioning by the deejays, gave out personal information about Kate’s condition.

"[She] hasn't had any retching with me and she's been sleeping on and off," the second nurse chirped as the pair continued their masquerade.

Three days later, Saldanha was found dead in a hospital staff residence. It is believed her shame from putting the call through drove her to take her own life.

Christian said he and Grieg had never expected to actually get through to the ward where the duchess was being treated.

"We just assumed we'd get cut off at every single point and that'd be it," he said.

"The joke 100 percent was on us. The idea was never, 'Let's call up and get through to Kate,' or 'Let's speak to a nurse.' The joke was our accents are horrible, they don't sound anything like who they're intended to be …
“It was meant to be in our silly accents. That's where it was meant to end."

Holleran told Fairfax Radio the station had repeatedly attempted to contact the hospital to discuss the prank before it aired, but didn’t succeed.

But hospital disputed that claim, insisting nobody at the station had contacted the hospital’s management or press office, according to the Daily Mail.

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The phone hoax has sparked international outrage, with some saying the radio station and deejays should face criminal charges. But the radio station has insisted it broke no laws. Greig and Christian have reportedly received death threats.

Saldanha’s husband, Ben Barboza, said on his Facebook page: "I am devastated with the tragic loss of my beloved wife Jacintha in tragic circumstances.’’

Before the suicide, Australian outlets had been raving about the stunt.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph said Greig and Christian had “bagged the best international scoop so far in the unfolding soap opera that is the Kate Middleton pregnancy.’’

© Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

They expected a hang-up and a few laughs. Instead, the Australian DJs behind a hoax phone call to the U.K. hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was treated were in tears Monday as they described how their joke ended up going too far.
Monday, 10 December 2012 07:50 AM
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