DALLAS (AP) – A Texas grandfather’s initiative to allow hotel guests to dial 911 without having to press 9 first _ spurred by his granddaughter’s inability to call for help when her mother was stabbed to death _ has prompted a federal official to reach out to major hotels.
The story of Hank Hunt and his 9-year-old granddaughter motivated Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai to send letters to 10 American hotel chains asking whether guests dialing 911 are directly connected to an emergency call center or a hotel employee. The letters also ask for the number of hotels in which someone dialing just 911 would not complete the call, and what plan the chain had to resolve that issue.
The letter from Pai, one of five commissioners for the agency that regulates telephone communications, requests a response by Feb. 14, although hotels are not required to respond.
Pai told The Associated Press that the Hunt family’s situation was “horrific” and that he wanted to know more about the scope of the potential problem before recommending action.
“If it’s a `90 percent’ problem as opposed to a `5 percent,’ obviously the contours of the problem will look very different and the nature of the solution will look very different,” Pai said Wednesday.
Mark Fletcher, chief architect of public safety solutions for communications company Avaya, said he hoped the FCC effort would collect much-needed data.
“The first step is to collect the facts, and understand the issue,” Fletcher said in an email. “Once that inquiry is complete, the FCC will be able to determine where the most suitable place for action resides.”
Kari Dunn had taken her three children to visit her estranged husband at a Baymont Inn in Marshall, Texas, the night in December when she was killed. Authorities say Brad Dunn dragged the young mother into a bathroom and stabbed her to death. Her daughter tried to dial 911 four times, but didn’t know to press 9 first and got no response. A guest in a nearby room eventually called for help.
Brad Dunn is accused in his wife’s murder and is being held on $5 million bond. His attorney, Scott Rectenwald, has declined to comment.
Officials at the National Emergency Number Association, a group representing 911 call takers and industry professionals, said the case highlighted longstanding concerns they had about whether people were facing hurdles in calling for help.
Hank Hunt, who spoke to Pai on Tuesday night, said the success of his campaign had far exceeded his expectations. A change.org petition calling for “Kari’s Law” in honor of his daughter has more than 400,000 signatures.
But Hunt got a reminder this week that he has a long way to go while staying Monday night at a hotel in the Central Texas city of Waco.
“There was a big card on the phone giving you instructions on how to do everything else, except dial 911,” Hunt said Wednesday. “It was disheartening.”
He said he asked front desk employees how to call 911 from his room. They told him he had to dial 9 first.
Follow Nomaan Merchant on Twitter at
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon