March 7, 2014 | Barb Carr

Remembering An Accident: Two Suspended Hotel Walkways Collapse July 17, 1981 – 114 Killed


On July 17, 1981, a 32-ton, 12-foot long fourth floor walkway that spanned over and across the Hyatt Regency Kansas City lobby collapsed and crashed into the second floor walkway of equal size and weight. Both walkways landed in the  lobby /atrium area where a dance competition (with approximately 1,600 people in attendance) was being held. The rescue operation lasted 14 hours, 114 people were killed and another 216 were injured.


Investigators found that changes to the design of the walkway’s steel tie rods were the cause of its failure.

$140 million was awarded to victims and their families,  and the tragedy remains a classic model for the study of engineering ethics and errors. After the collapse, the lobby was reconstructed with only one crossing on the second floor, supported by several columns underneath it rather than being suspended from the ceiling.

Download and read report at National Institute of Standards and Technology:


Root Cause Analysis
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