MARSHALL, Texas (KETK) – Sunday is the last day for businesses across the nation to become compliant with Kari’s Law which requires telephone systems to have direct access to 9-1-1.
The law is named for Kari Dunn, who was stabbed to death in 2013 by her husband in a Marshall motel room. The couple’s oldest daughter, who was 9-year-old at the time, did everything she was taught to do, dial 9-1-1 for help.
During the struggle, the child tried but was unsuccessful in getting help because the motel phone required “9” to be dialed first to reach any outside line, including emergency services.
After Kari’s death, her father, Hank, made it his mission to make sure no child would experience what his grandaughter did trying to call 9-1-1 and not receiving help.
He started a petition that got the attention of hundreds of thousands of people including lawmakers across the nation.
On the state level, Illinois, Maryland, and Tennesse passed the law before Texas passed it in 2015 by Governor Greg Abbott. The law went into effect in Texas on September 1, 2016.
“There’s a lesson virtually every parent teaches their child – if you face an emergency, call 9-1-1,” Governor Abbott said, when he signed Kari’s Law in 2015. “I am signing Kari’s Law to ensure that whenever there is an emergency, any child and any adult who dials 9-1-1 is going to be able to connect with emergency personnel to ensure they come to the rescue of those who need help the most.”Governor Greg Abbott, 2015
State Representative Louie Gohmert sponsored Kari’s Law on the national level that was passed by Congress in 2017 and signed into law on what would have been Kari’s 36th birthday by President Trump in February 2018.
“The horrific death of East Texas resident Kari Rene Hunt caused many people throughout the First District of Texas and the country to lose trust in a system that should assist when faced with emergency situations. Never again should a child or anyone else, for that matter, pick up the phone, dial 9-1-1, and get nothing.”Rep. Louie Gohmert, 2017
Sunday, February 16 is the last day businesses must become compliant with Kari’s Law requiring a direct line to 9-1-1.
In addition to facing potentially devasting civil liabilities should a tragedy occur, businesses that “willfully and knowingly” fail to comply with the law risk a of up to $10,000 and may be subject to additional $500 penalties for each day they remain non-compliant.
Bradd Dunn was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison. He is currently serving time in the Mark W. Michael Unit in Tennesse Colony near Palestine. Kari’s family was ultimately awarded $42 million by a jury in a wrongful death suit filed by Kari’s father, Hank, against Dunn and the motel.
The Marshall Police Department noted the upcoming milestone in Kari Hunt’s story by sharing a Facebook post urging people to spread the word about the federal law going into effect, saying “No one should need to dial an extra number to call 9-1-1 again!”