LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) -
An East Texas family is seeing the change they've been pushing for after their loved one was murdered inside a Marshall motel room last month.
According to Marshall Police, on December 1, Kari Rene Hunt was stabbed to death by her estranged husband. Kari's family says, Kari's young children were in the motel room with her during the attack and tried calling 911. However, they say the call did not go through because the children needed to dial "9" in order to get an outside line.
Now, Kari's family has been on a quest for support and change when it comes to making 911 calls from hotels and motels. One month after her murder, Kari's story is inspiring changes in East Texas.
"If there is an emergency, your thought is 911. You don't think, 'Oh my gosh. Do I have to dial 9 to get out?' ...you dial 911. I want every single building to have that ability," explains Kari's stepmother, DaLonna Hunt.
In December, Kari's family started a petition on change.org that now has more than 340,000 signatures. What might be even better is that the change they're asking for is already happening.
Friday was the first day that every single phone inside of the Longview Staybridge Suites had an integrated 911 system.
"Being made aware of that situation, we have decided to change that in our hotel so that they can straight dial 911," explains general manager CJ Clayton.
In hotels with integrated 911 systems, it doesn't matter if you dial 9-911 or 911... your call will go directly to an emergency operator. It'll also send an alert to the front desk and let them know that a customer has called for help.
"Now that we're aware of what it could prevent, we want it to be right," says Clayton.
The Staybridge Suites in Longview and the LaQuinta Inn across the street now know they have integrated 911 systems. Relatively new hotels have easily upgraded phone software.
"When you get to 15 or 20-year-old systems, they just don't have the capability of doing it," explains Clay Slaughter of C&S Commco Inc.
Slaughter installs these phone systems for a living. He says the age of the phone system makes all of the difference between a $100 service call and thousands of dollars in replacing the entire phone switch.
"People have to understand that there are a lot of these cheaper, smaller, mom-and-pop type locations that do not have 911 integration," explains Slaughter.
However, just because they don't, it doesn't mean they wont. Kari's family is asking for all businesses to be required to make these upgrades in hopes of saving a life.
"I don't know whether that could have saved my daughter... that might have gotten somebody there quicker," says DaLonna.
Kari's family has asked for help from Congressman Louie Gohmert. The Congressman says his staff is already preparing to take up this issue.
Tuesday, August 19 2014 4:10 PM EDT2014-08-19 20:10:07 GMT
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