(Adds comment from Wyndham and a hotel association)
By Kevin Murphy
Jan 10 A 9-year-old girl's vain attempt to reach
police by calling 911 as her mother lay dying in a Texas hotel
room has generated a national petition drive to require that
emergency services be accessible from all hotel rooms simply by
The girl's mother, Kari Hunt Dunn, was stabbed to death on
Dec. 1 in the bathroom of a Baymont Suites motel room in
Marshall, Texas, where she had intended to drop off three young
children for a visit with their father, Brad Allen Dunn.
Dunn is being held on a charge of murder in the case but has
not been indicted nor has he appeared in court to enter a plea,
said a district court clerk in Harrison County, Texas.
The 9-year-old girl, whose name is not being released,
called 911 from the room but got no response, according to her
grandfather, Hank Hunt, who started the petition drive with a
letter on the website change.org.
She did not know that she had to dial 9 first to get an
outside line, he said on Friday.
"She said 'I tried and tried but it didn't work,'" Hunt
said. "She was taught to do what every child was taught to do -
More than 400,000 people have signed the petition for
Congress posted on change.org since Hunt wrote the letter asking
for signatures. The petition seeks a federal law - "Kari's Law"
in honor of his deceased daughter - requiring 911 services from
"My goal was 100 signatures, maybe just from friends and
family," Hunt said. "I found out there are a whole lot of great
people in this country and around the world."
Baymont Suites is part of the Wyndham Hotel Group.
Because the hotel is an independently owned and operated
property, Wyndham said it was unable to provide details
concerning the event.
"We are taking this matter very seriously and are currently
looking into the issues that have been raised in the petition,"
Wyndham said in a statement.
Chad Callaghan, safety and security consultant for the
American Hotel & Lodging Association, said systems should be
developed so that hotel front desk personnel know when 911 is
called so they can also respond and can expect emergency crews.
"We all agree it's a problem," Callaghan said.
Hunt said some hotels phone systems permit guests to reach
emergency services by dialing 911, but others do not. Smaller
hotel chains or independent motels may be less likely to offer
that access, sometimes due to perceived cost, Hunt said.
But switching to 911 access is often more about
reprogramming phones than buying new hardware, Hunt said. Hunt
proposes that hotels get tax credits or grants, if necessary, to
install the amended 911 systems.
The National Emergency Number Association has supported
federal legislation to require 911 service from hotels,
dormitories and similar residential buildings, said Trey
Forgety, the group's government affairs director.
Forgety said any hotel built in the last 15 or 20 years has
the capability of creating 911 access from rooms, and he does
not sense strong opposition to the idea. The petition drive has
raised public awareness of the issue and should help get the
attention of Congress, he said.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy, editing by Gunna Dickson)