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Nurse duped by Middleton prank call dies

2:19 PM, Dec 7, 2012   |    comments
By WPA Pool, Getty Images Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, meets guests a Buckingham Palace reception for the media.
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by Arienne Thompson, USA TODAY

There's a disturbing developing story out of London this morning, as King Edward VII Hospital confirms that a nurse involved in the Kate Middleton hoax call incident has died.

Jacintha Saldanha was found dead this morning near the hospital, where a pregnant Middleton was being treated for severe morning sickness this week.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha," the royal couple said in a statement. "Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha's family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time."

John Lofthouse, the hospital's chief executive, also released a statement: "Our thoughts and deepest sympathies at this time are with her family and friends. Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much loved and valued colleague."

The Daily Mail first reported that Saldanha, a nurse who was answering calls this week and was tricked via a prank call into connecting the hoaxers to Middleton's nurse, died in a suspected suicide. Saldanha had worked at the hospital for more than four years and transferred the call to the Duchess' caregiver early Tuesday morning.

Scotland Yard officials confirmed that a young woman was found unconscious this morning near the hospital and was later pronounced dead. No official cause of death has been revealed yet and the police are calling it unexplained, but the Mail reports that a source is calling it a suicide.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson told the Mail, "Police were called at approximately 9.25 am on Friday, December 7, to a report of a woman found unconscious (at) an address in Weymouth Street, W1. London Ambulance Service attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Inquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances of the incident. The death is not being treated as suspicious at this stage."

Earlier this week, two Australian radio DJs called the hospital pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles and convinced a nurse to comment on Middleton's condition, which was a violation of patient confidentiality.

Since news broke of Saldanha's death, the radio personalities, Michael Christian and Mel Greig of 2Day FM, have both deleted their Twitter accounts after tweeting about the success of the prank throughout the week.

The Duchess of Cambridge was hospitalized while dealing with a severe case of morning sickness and was released on Thursday. Middleton and Prince William announced Monday that they're expecting their first child.

Copyright 2012 USATODAY.com

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