After 2015 Wimberley flood, bill would make 911 calls confidential


House bill would make 911 recordings, transcripts confidential unless the caller permits their release.

Representative of Corpus Christi, where 8 Wimberley flood victims lived, said bill is personal, not political.

Saying his bill was personal, not political, a longtime member of the Texas House is proposing to make recordings of 911 calls confidential unless the caller gives permission for their release.

Rep. Todd Hunter, a nine-term Republican from Corpus Christi, said he was motivated by the 2015 Memorial Day Weekend flood that killed eight people from his city — leaving only one survivor from three families who were vacationing along the Blanco River in Wimberley. The victims included his dentist and a member of his legislative staff.

“For two years, the Corpus Christi community has grieved,” Hunter told the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee during a Tuesday hearing on House Bill 3640.

“What bothers me on social media, and in the media, is we sometimes see and hear horrible things. We have to get a little morality, scruples and concern for families that go through awful, tragic circumstances,” Hunter said.

RELATED: Facebook reunites Wimberley flood victims with belongings

Under HB 3640, a recording or transcript of a 911 call could not be released to the public without consent from the person who placed the emergency call or from their lawyer.

Testifying in support of HB 3640 was Jonathan McComb, who lost his wife and two children, ages 6 and 4, in the Wimberley flood during a celebration of their 10th anniversary.

McComb recalled lying in a hospital bed with broken ribs and punctured lung when a detective warned him that requests had been made to obtain tapes of 911 calls from the home his family and friends were staying in.

“I thought, what good can come from this? It really took me aback,” he told the committee. “Before I can have a proper burial, a proper memorial service … the 911 call was heard. There’s no reason to hear 911 tapes.”

RELATED: Central Texas floods expose gaps in high-tech warning systems

Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, asked Hunter if the bill could unintentionally keep information secret that “the public needs to know” — perhaps instances where release of a 911 tape could help identify or locate a suspect.

Hunter said he hoped to submit a revised version of HB 3640 to the committee by the end of the week to address such concerns.

State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, said he believed Hunter’s bill should be expanded to include police radio calls.

“So here’s the family of a deceased officer whose children are listening to a replay of the shooting and other things, which is incredibly offensive to me and a great disregard by the press and others for that family’s situation,” said King, chairman of the committee.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

AUSTIN BOMBINGS: Medics might have tipped off bomber Mark Conditt
AUSTIN BOMBINGS: Medics might have tipped off bomber Mark Conditt

Hours before a dramatic confrontation between Austin serial bomber Mark Conditt and police, two paramedics for the Pflugerville Fire Department might have inadvertently tipped off Conditt that law enforcement was closing in on him. The two-person crew was intended to be nearby as authorities conducted surveillance and prepared to serve a search warrant...
2 killed in four-vehicle wreck near Liberty Hill

LIBERTY HILL Two killed in 4-vehicle wreck Two people killed in a four-vehicle wreck on U.S. 183 north of Liberty Hill have been identified as Norman Burton, 48, of Austin and Theresa Burton, 79, of Austin, according to a DPS report. Norman Burton was driving a Cadillac and Theresa Burton was a passenger in the car, the report said. The wreck started...
Former Akins High student came to school with loaded gun, principal says
Former Akins High student came to school with loaded gun, principal says

A former Akins High School student was arrested after he drove to the school parking lot Thursday with a loaded gun, the school’s principal said in a letter to parents. An administrator recognized the 17-year-old former student as he was parking and notified campus police, Principal Brandi Hosack said.  As the officer approached the teen&rsquo...
Task force members recall final moments in Austin bomber takedown
Task force members recall final moments in Austin bomber takedown

Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Darren Sartin said the search and takedown of the Austin bomber was a case of a lifetime, and a type of situation he hopes to never deal with again. Sartin, the supervisor of the service’s Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, leads a team of local, state and federal law enforcement officers who pride themselves on bringing...
Candlelight vigil planned in Pflugerville for Austin bombing victims
Candlelight vigil planned in Pflugerville for Austin bombing victims

A candlelight vigil for the families affected by the bombings in Austin will take place Friday night in Pflugerville. The vigil will be from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Main Street between Second and Third Streets, according to a Facebook post about the event. Donations will accepted for the families of the victims, according to the post. Participants...
More Stories