Kari’s Law: Father of victim discusses long journey to see bill become law

Kari’s Law: Father of victim discusses long journey to see bill become law
Hank Hunt

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - A bill that began with a tragedy in a Marshall hotel room just over four years ago has passed Congress and is headed to the White House.

Kari's Law received final approval in the U.S. House just before dawn on Feb 9.

If signed into law by President Trump, the bill will ensure that anyone dialing 911 will get the help they need without being forced to dial an extra digit to reach an outside line.

"When I saw it on the news that it was headed to the White House that's when it sunk in that it's kind of, a little bit of emotion ... a little bit ... but it's been a long time  coming. Been a long four years," said Kari's father, Hank Hunt.

The final approval happened on a poignant day for the Hunt family. The vote fell on what would have been Kari Hunt's 36th birthday.

In December 2013, Kari Hunt was murdered in a Marshall hotel by her estranged husband, Brad Dunn. Dunn is serving 99 years in prison for her murder.

Kari's daughter, then 9 years old, was in that hotel room and tried calling 911 multiple times but the call never went through because the phone system required an extra digit to reach an outside line.

Hunt promised his granddaughter that what happened to her would never happen to another person. And so began a grassroots campaign for legislation that is now headed to the White House.

"I made a promise to a 9-year-old that I'd fix it. Boy I was scared to death I'd never be able to hold up that promise, but I found the right people to help me with that," Hank Hunt said.

He's had a hard time believing it has been so difficult to call for help from some phone systems.

"911, it's on our police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, they teach it in school; parent do, grandparents do, and what good is it if it doesn't work," Hunt stated.

Hank learned it wasn't an expensive fix, but it took a tragedy and daily dedication to bring attention to the issue.

For most phone systems, the fix is simply a change in how a phone is programmed.

"Your phone's already capable of doing it. Make your phone work. Just make it work," Hunt pointed out.

"It's going to be hard to figure out what to do the next day when I get up because every day for the past four years has been: Kari's law, who do I need to contact, who do I need to call, am I supposed to be anywhere," Hunt said.

But there is still one more step. It needs presidential approval.

Kari's Law is expected to be delivered to the White House next week.

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