Family Grieves for Nurse Who Died After Royal Prank

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A stretcher is brought from a private ambulance into the block of flats where the nurse Jacintha Saldanha lived near the King Edward VII Hospital in central London.

The family members of a nurse who apparently killed herself after falling victim to a hoax call last week from an Australian radio station, patching two disc jockeys through to another nurse who revealed details about the health of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, have begun to tell of their devastation at the nurse’s death.

Benedict Barboza, the husband of the dead nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, posted on his Facebook page, according to The Daily Mail: “I am devastated with the tragic loss of my beloved wife Jacintha in tragic circumstances. She will be laid to rest in Shirva, India.” Saldanha, who died on Friday, was the mother of two teenage children, a boy and a girl.

The Duchess, who is married to Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and the second in line to the British throne, was in the private hospital in Central London where Saldanha worked because she was suffering from acute morning sickness. The Duchess is in the early stages of pregnancy. A statement released on Friday by St. James’s Palace, which speaks for the couple, says, “the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha” and that “their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.” The palace also confirmed that at no point did the palace complain to the hospital about the prank call. Nevertheless, Saldanha appears to have been deeply affected by her role in the slip-up.

Benedict Barboza’s mother, Carmine Barboza, who spoke to journalists at her home in Sorkala, India, said the family had no idea Saldanha had been caught up in the controversy over the prank call.

“Benedict used to call every day but neither he nor Jacintha said anything about what had happened. Everything seemed normal,” Carmine Barboza, 69, told The Guardian. ”We got a call last night from Benedict informing us that Jacintha had died. He was crying and couldn’t speak much. We don’t know whether we’ll be able to bring her dead body back to India but we desperately hope so.”

“We spoke to Benedict again this morning, and he said he hasn’t been allowed to see her body yet because of legal formalities and she’ll not be handed over before Monday. We want to bring her dead body to India to perform her last rites.”

Mel Greig and Michael Christian, the two disc jockeys who made the call, pretended to be the Queen and Prince Philip in order to obtain details about the Duchess’s health. Facing enormous hostility from people in Australia and internationally, the two presenters have not made any comments in public. But Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns the radio station the two work for, 2Day FM, told reporters in Melbourne: “I spoke to both presenters early this morning and it’s fair to say they are completely shattered. These people aren’t machines, they’re human beings. What happened is incredibly tragic and we’re deeply saddened and we’re incredibly affected by that.”

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