Father of 911 law's namesake: 'She would be amazed'

Published: Sep. 1, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2016 at 9:50 PM CDT
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Kari's Law is signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 15, 2015. (Source: KLTV staff)
Kari's Law is signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 15, 2015. (Source: KLTV staff)

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Thursday marked the first day that a new law is in effect in Texas -- one named after an East Texas mother, Kari Hunt. Kari was killed by her estranged husband in 2013 in a Marshall hotel room. Her daughter tried repeatedly to call for help, but did not know she needed to dial an extra '9' before dialing 911 to reach help.

On the first day of the law, Kari's father, Hank Hunt said she would be "amazed" at the progress on the law that is now in effect in four states ensuring direct access to 911. Texas now joins Illinois, Maryland and Tennessee in enacting the law.

The effort to make sure what happened to Hank Hunt's granddaughter did not happen again began with a simple online petition shortly following Kari's death, but spread across the country.

"It was suggested from a girl that was a friend of Kari's about a petition, so we started that thinking we'd get a couple hundred signatures and it's turned into a whirlwind," Hank Hunt said.

Hunt has been to many states telling the story of his daughter and granddaughter. His mission in Texas for Kari's Law started with East Texas lawmakers, State Senator Kevin Eltife and State Representative Chris Paddie.

"My granddaughter looked at me and said 'I did what I was supposed to do, papa,'" Hunt told a workshop for the State Commission on Emergency Communications in 2014.

911 is supposed to be 911 and over the years we gotten away from that

Hank Hunt, Kari's Father

The law not only is designed to ensure direct access to 911 in facilities with multi-line telephone systems, but it also provides for on-site notification when a 911 call is made.

Learn More: No 9 Needed Foundation

Hank Hunt's granddaughter, who is now 11, is even getting involved in the push for making sure there are "No 9's Needed" to reach help.

"She's involved with Kari's Law and No 9 Needed Foundation to the extent an 11-year-old can be," Hank Hunt said.

Hunt said he took her to Nashville when Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed Kari's Law in 2016.

"We stayed at a few hotels and each time we entered the room one of the first things she did was went to the phone to see how to call 911," Hunt said. "One hotel she jumped up and down and praised and the other she shook her head no, and I said 'why don't we get it fixed.' So.... We got it fixed."

A federal law is still making its way through Congress. A version has passed the House of Representatives and is waiting in the Senate.

In the meantime, Kari's father said he will be focusing on individual states to see if they will introduce legislation. He said his next targets are Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

If a business in Texas can't immediately make the changes, they can request a waiver to the law by filling out a waiver.

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