Victim's family launches 911 call petition
Robin Y. Richardson
Dec. 26, 2013 at 10 p.m.
The family of Kari Hunt Dunn, a local woman who was murdered at a local motel by her estranged husband in front of their young children, is petitioning local lawmakers to change laws that could help children easily dial 911 from any hotel or motel room.
"I plan on getting signatures until I hear from someone," said Kari's father Henry "Hank" Hunt, of Winona.
The petition, addressed to Congressman Louie Gohmert, calls for the implementation of "Kari's Law," requiring all hotel and motel chains, including Mom and Pop locations, to change the telephone system that would require anyone desiring an outside line to dial an "8" first, freeing up the number 9 for dialing 911 emergency numbers.
"I'm petitioning him and the United States Congress," said Hunt.
"It can be done in today's technology; it's a very easy thing to do, depending on your phone system," he said.
Hunt launched the petition following the Dec. 1 death of his daughter, who was stabbed several times in a motel room by her estranged husband, Brad Dunn, whom she had planned to divorce.
Hunt said his daughter's three children – ages 3, 4, and 9 – witnessed the tragedy, and the 9-year-old attempted to dial 911 for help, as her mother taught her, but couldn't because of the call requirements for reaching an outside line.
"She followed instructions as taught by her mother on the way to call for help but she was never instructed that in some hotels and motels you must first dial a "9" and then 911," Hunt wrote in the petition.
"We are attempting to ensure that any person needing police, EMS or the fire department at any hotel or motel location may be able to dial the numbers 911 and receive emergency response," he said. "In a panic, any underage child - or for that matter - anyone in an emergency situation should be able to depend on dialing 911 from any phone in the United States and receiving assistance."
Hunt said his daughter, 31, had agreed to meet her husband at the Baymont Inn in Marshall to leave the children with him for a short visit.
"Her estranged husband apparently ambushed her in the motel room and cornered her in the restroom," he said.
The fact that the 9-year-old attempted to call for help during the struggle, to no avail, prompted him to call on lawmakers for a change.
"We pray the lawmakers in our Congress and Senate hear the cries of Kari and her children," the petition states. "Seconds count (and) when a 9-year-old little girl is mature and brave enough to dial for help, she should be answered."
The grieving father said they understand the cost associated with implementing an Enhanced 911 or E911 system, which is why only a handful of states require it. Kari's Law calls for the requirement to be enacted in all establishments throughout the country.
"We ask the United States Congress to make it a requirement for all hotel and motels operating in the United States and offer conversion assistance where needed," the petition states. "Please help make this 'Kari's Law.'"
Hunt said he's overwhelmed by the support the family has received so far from the thousands of people who have signed the petition, addressed to Gohmert.
"I was hoping to get 100 to show him here's 100 people wanting you to investigate it and it started ballooning and people started sharing," said Hunt.
As of Christmas day, the petition had garnered 5,000 signatures from supporters around the world.
"We're getting so many comments from 911 dispatchers who are agreeing. Even hotel operators are saying something needs to be done," said Hunt. "We'll see.
"It does speak volumes," he said of the support from the hotel operators and dispatchers, "so does more people (signing)."
Hunt encourages the public to support the family's plea by signing the petition online at www.change.org/karislaw.
"Please help us get this changed," he said. "I would hate for another child to not be able to get help or a family member of anybody not be able to get help from a hotel, motel or office building in today's age.
"Who knows when you might need (help)," he said, expounding how precious moments are lost when having to dial a 9 and then having to wait in order to get an outside line.
"Sign up, please," he encouraged.
Hunt said the petition is something his daughter would've wanted.
"I try to think of what she would do," he said. "This is it.
"There's got to be something done about it," he said.
Hunt said Kari was his firstborn, and the family is continuing to cope with her loss and make sure that her children are taken care of.
"My wife likes to say she loved with a purpose, and she did," said Hunt. "She lived for those three kids."
"I love her," he said, breaking down.
Kari's the daughter of Cindy Kopecky and Al Kopecky, of Marshall, and Henry "Hank" Hunt and D.J. Hunt, of Winona,
A link to the petition can be found on the Facebook page "Change it for Kari." The petition can also be found at www.change.org/karislaw.