Kids say nurse's death leaves void

Dec. 15, 2012 at 10:33 AM
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LONDON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The children of the British nurse found hanged after she answered a prank call about Kate Middleton's pregnancy said her death left a void in their lives.

In a joint tribute Saturday to Jacintha Saldanha, her children -- Lisha, 14, and Junal, 16, said, "We are shattered and there's an unfillable void in our lives. ... "The house is an empty dwelling without your presence," the BBC reported.

Saldanha, 46, was found dead last week after she received a prank phone call from two Australian radio personalities impersonating Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. They asked about Middleton's condition and the nurse passed the call along to a colleague who gave out private information on the duchess of Cambridge, hospitalized for acute morning sickness.

Her husband, Benedict Barboza, and her children attended a mass at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday. Memorial services have already been conducted at the hospital and in Bristol, where her husband and children live. Saldanha's funeral will be Monday in Karnataka, India.

Barboza called his wife "the light in my darkness, who always showed me the way forward. From the day we met, you always stood by me in times of hardship and happiness. I feel a part of me has been ripped out."

On Thursday an inquest at Westminster's Coroner Court heard that Saldanha was found hanged and left three suicide notes.

King Edward VII Hospital has said managers tried to reassure Saldanha no one blamed her for forwarding the call through to the duchess' ward.

The hospital's chief executive officer, John Lofthouse, said in a letter to Parliament member Keith Vaz that protocols were in place for dealing with calls to "high-profile" patients.

"Part of our procedure is to take the name and number of the individual and call them back. This is in order to verify that the call is genuine," Lofthouse said in the letter, released Friday. "We also empower our staff to use their judgment. On this particular occasion, Jacintha believed that the call was genuine, and she felt it appropriate to put the call through. We stand by her judgment."

He said Saldanha would not have faced disciplinary proceedings "because she had been the victim of a cruel trick."

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