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DJ's distress at hoax nurse's death
2 Day FM radio presenters Mel Greig, left, and Michael Christian have spoken out about their hoax phone call (AP/AAP/Southern Cross Austereo)
An Australian radio presenter who duped a nurse into helping reveal details about the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge's health has spoken tearfully of the moment she heard that Jacintha Saldanha had died.
DJ Mel Greig told Australian TV networks: "Unfortunately I remember that moment very well because I haven't stopped thinking about it since it happened. I remember my first question was 'Was she a mother?'.
"I have thought about this a million times in my head, that I just wanted to reach out to them and just give them a big hug and say sorry. I hope they are OK, I really do." Her colleague, Michael Christian, added: "I just hope that they get the love, the support, the care that they need."
The two DJs were able to trick two nurses at London's King Edward VII's Hospital. Mother of two Ms Saldanha, 46, who took the initial call before putting the pair through to a colleague, was found dead on Friday in what appears to be a suspected suicide.
Greig and Christian, DJs on the station 2Day FM, were quizzed about the incident on the Australian TV programmes A Current Affair and Today Tonight. They pulled out of a third interview they were meant to do for The Project, on the Ten network, because they were unwell, according to a spokesman for the TV channel.
In a statement, the radio station's owner, Southern Cross Austero Media, said it had suspended advertising on 2Day FM until further notice, ended Greig and Christian's Hot 30 show and suspended prank calls across the company. The statement said attempts had been made to contact the hospital before the hoax was broadcast, adding that it believed no laws had been broken.
Speaking on Today Tonight on Channel Seven, Greig said: "It doesn't seem real because you just couldn't foresee something like that happening from a prank call. You know it was never meant to go that far. It was meant to be a silly little prank that so many people have done before. This wasn't meant to happen."
Christian, comforting a tearful Greig during the interview on Today Tonight, said he was "gutted, shattered, heartbroken" by the nurse's death. Asked who had come up with the idea of the prank, Christian replied that it was "just in a team meeting" before the show. Greig added: "Everything's done as a team."
Asked if they were aware that they were trying to get a medical condition, Greig said: "But we didn't actually want that. We just wanted to be hung up on. We wanted to be hung up on with our silly voices and wanted a 20-second segment to air of us doing stupid voices."
In a second interview on the Nine Network, the pair said their greatest concern now was for the family of Ms Saldanha. Greig said: "I wanted to just reach out to them and to give them a big hug and say sorry. Not a minute goes by that we don't think about the family and what they are going through, and the thought we may have played a part is gut-wrenching."