Australian radio presenters 'heartbroken' after death of nurse

Monday 10 December 2012 22.25
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Michael Christian and Mel Greig said the tragedy had left them 'shattered, gutted, heartbroken'
Michael Christian and Mel Greig said the tragedy had left them 'shattered, gutted, heartbroken'
Jacintha Saldanha was found dead in staff accommodation
Jacintha Saldanha was found dead in staff accommodation
Jacintha Saldanha pictured with family members
Jacintha Saldanha pictured with family members

Two Australian radio presenters, who made a prank call to a British hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge, say they are heartbroken over the death of the nurse who took the initial call.

The 2DayFM Sydney-based announcers, Mel Greig and Michael Christian said the tragedy had left them "shattered, gutted, heartbroken".

The two have been in hiding since nurse Jacintha Saldanha's death, three days after the call was broadcast.

The presenters had pretended to be members of the Royal family asking about the Duchess, who was being treated for acute morning sickness.

Ms Greig told Australian television her first thought when told of Ms Saldanha's death was for her family.

"Unfortunately I remember that moment very well, because I haven't stopped thinking about it since it happened," Ms Greig said while struggling to talk about the tragedy.

"I remember my first question was 'was she a mother?'."

"I've wanted to just reach out to them and just give them a big hug and say sorry. I hope they're okay, I really do. I hope they get through this," said Ms Greig when asked about Ms Saldanha's children and her husband.

Ms Saldanha, 46, was found dead in staff accommodation near London's King Edward VII hospital on Friday after putting the hoax call through to a colleague who unwittingly disclosed details of Kate Middleton's morning sickness.

A recording of the call, broadcast repeatedly by the station, rapidly became an internet hit and was reprinted as a transcript in many newspapers.

However, news of Ms Saldanha's death sparked an internet firestorm, with vitriolic comments towards the DJs on Facebook and Twitter.

Mr Christian said his only wish was that Ms Saldanha's grief-stricken family received proper support.

"I hope that they get the love, the support, the care that they need, you know," said Mr Christian.

Both presenters were relatively new to the station, with Ms Greig joining in March and Mr Christian having been in the job only a few days before the prank call.

The 2Day parent company Southern Cross Austereo has received more than 1,000 complaints from Australians over the actions of the presenters, who have both been taken off air during a broadcasting watchdog investigation.

The station said it had tried to contact hospital staff five times over the recordings.

"It is absolutely true to say that we actually did attempt to contact those people on multiple occasions," said SCA Chief Executive Rhys Holleran.

"No one could have reasonably foreseen what has happened. I can only say the prank call is not unusual around the world," he said.

Shares in SCA fell 5% today after two major Australian companies pulled their advertising with the radio station in protest, and other advertising was suspended.

Keywords: australia