WASHINGTON (KYTX) - The FCC announced Monday it plans to look into a Marshall Hotel's 911 phone system where a mother was killed in front of her children.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said the hotel's phone system failed.
Last month, Kari Rene Hunt Dunn met her estranged husband in a Marshall, Texas hotel
room so that he could visit their three children. During that encounter, Kari's husband forced her
into the bathroom and allegedly began stabbing her.
Kari's nine-year-old daughter did exactly what she had been taught to do during an
emergency. She picked up the phone and dialed 911. The call didn't go through, so she tried
again. And again. And again. All in all, she dialed 911 four times—but she never reached
emergency personnel. Why? Because the hotel's phone system required her to dial 9 to get an
outside line. Tragically, Kari died as a result of this vicious attack.
Kari's daughter behaved heroically under horrific circumstances. But the hotel's phone
system failed her, her mother, and her entire family.
In my first speech as an FCC Commissioner, I said that "when consumers dial 911, they
need to reach emergency personnel; it shouldn't matter whether they are using the public-
switched telephone network (or PSTN), a VoIP application, or a wireless phone." Neither
should it matter whether they are using a phone at a hotel, motel, or office building. If you dial
911 in a large building, you need to reach someone qualified to help. And you should be able to
do so: The technology to make that happen already exists.
That's why today I am starting an inquiry to determine what steps can be taken to prevent
tragedies like Kari's from happening again. As a first step, I am sending a letter this afternoon to
the ten largest hotel chains in the United States asking some basic questions. What happens
when a guest in one of your hotels dials 911 from a phone in his or her room? Does he or she
reach trained emergency personnel? If not, what is your plan for solving this problem?
Kari is gone, and there is nothing we can do to bring her back. But her death will not be
in vain if we can take action to ensure that whenever someone calls 911, they connect with
emergency personnel. Over the coming weeks and months, that's exactly what I intend to do.