Gov. Greg Abbott signs Kari’s Law for easier 911 access

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Friday morning that makes it easier for people to dial 911 from a business line. It’s called Kari’s Law, named for a woman who was stabbed to death while her 9-year-old daughter was trying to connect with 911 on a hotel phone.

This 2009 photo provided by the Hunt family shows Kari Hunt Dunn. Hunt’s 9-year-old daughter tried to call 911 from the hotel room where she could hear her mother dying but didn’t know to dial 9 first. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Hunt family)

The law requires direct 911 dialing from multiline telephone systems — like the ones in hotels and offices — where you would normally have to dial another number first to get an outside line.

In March, a jury sentenced Brad Dunn, 36, of East Texas in the 2013 death. He received 99 years in prison after pleading guilty to stabbing and killing his estranged wife, Kari Dunn. He was accused of dragging her into a bathroom and stabbing her after she took their three children to visit him at a hotel in Marshall.

Her daughter tried to call 911 but was unsuccessful, not realizing she had to dial ‘9’ to get an outside line.

The death spurred the national campaign after Kari Dunn’s family launched the effort to make all hotels allow guests to dial 911 without having to first press another number.

Brad Dunn had pleaded guilty to murder on March 7. He also was assessed a $10,000 fine.

Kari Hunt’s father pushed for the legislation in the wake of his daughter’s death. As Hunt traveled the country to speak about Kari’s Law, he took notice in each hotel room where he stayed.

“Some hotels we stayed in say dial 6821 for emergency,” said Hunt in August 2014 about the inconsistencies he came across. “Toss a coin, you do not know.”

Last summer, he was at a Commission on State Emergency Communications Workshop in Austin once again telling the story of his daughter’s death with the hope that it would save someone else’s life.

“I believe Texas does have legislation for 911, but it is not a consistent legislation,” said Hunt at the time.

Consistency is what he believes all phone systems should have when it comes to an emergency number, and the Federal Communications Commission took notice. The FCC investigated the feasibility of what Kari’s Law would require. Meanwhile, Illinois and Suffolk County, N.Y., have already passed a form of the law.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association conducted a survey, and found 47 percent of franchised hotels did not require an access code for 911. That number dropped to 32 percent for independently owned hotels.

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