On what would have been her 36th birthday, a bill named in honor of East Texan Kari Hunt is being sent to President Donald Trump's desk. The bill would ensure more direct access to 9-1-1 from multi-line telephone systems following a flaw that was discovered following Hunt's death.
Kari Hunt was stabbed to death by her estranged husband in a Marshall, Texas hotel room in 2013. Her daughter was in the room at the time and tried dialing 9-1-1 repeatedly for help, but did not know an extra '9' was needed to reach an outside line.
The bill passing both the U.S. House and Senate is the latest hurdle passed by Kari's father, Hank, who has made it his mission to make sure no child had to experience what his granddaughter experienced trying to call 9-1-1. The bill was introduced by Rep. Louie Gohmert from East Texas.
Immediately following Kari's death, Hank Hunt started a petition that got the attention of hundreds of thousands of people, including lawmakers in several states. Hunt would travel from his home in East Texas to Austin - and Washington D.C. - telling the story of his daughter and granddaughter, and why the law should change.
Hank Hunt said getting a bill passed has been a long, emotional journey.
"It's a bittersweet day," Hank Hunt said. "We were able to get a law passed that will prevent anyone from experiencing what my granddaughter did."
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, heard of what happened to Kari and her daughter and filed bipartisan legislation to fix the problem. After years of political delays the bill finally passed in the early morning hours of February 9th, what would have been Kari's birthday.
"Our children should be able to dial 911 and get help on the other end of the line in a hotel or in an office. Now they can," Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said. "My heart goes out to Kari’s father, Hank. What a fitting day for Kari’s Law to pass—today Kari would have been 36 years old. Happy birthday, Kari. Your legacy lives on.”
Legislation was passed on the state level in Illinois, Maryland, Tennessee and in the Hunt's home state of Texas. The Texas law passed in 2015, with Kari's daughter receiving the pen Governor Greg Abbott used to sign the bill, in honor of her mother.
“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.”
Compliance on the Texas law started in September 2017.