This episode deals with the Hyatt Regency skywalk collapse which happened in Kansas City, MO, in 1981. On July 18, two walkways supported by 12 1-1/4-inch hanger rods gave way during a 1940s-style tea dance in the hotel’s atrium, killing 114 people and injuring hundreds more.
For this episode, I watched the original news footage as well as the skywalk collapse episodes of Minute by Minute and Seconds From Disaster, both of which can be found with a quick YouTube search if you’d like to watch them as well. There is also a book available through Amazon on the collapse called The Hyatt Regency Disaster : Behind The Front Page, which really seems to deal with the personal experiences of one reporter who arrived in the aftermath, so I will admit I didn’t make much use of it.
I also read the official report from the National Bureau of Standards investigation explaining the timeline and causes of the disaster. It’s a pretty dry read, and I’m not kidding when I say a lot of the time I’ve spent preparing the episode was working out the basics of Structural Engineering 101. But once you can wrap your head around the concepts and phrases used, what actually happened in the atrium that day is a lot easier to understand in detail.
The website for the skywalk memorial in Kansas City is located here, and they are accepting donations if you’d like to help out and support remembering those lost in the disaster.