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Re: "Comprehensive Report on Structural Failure Available to the Public" (WAS: Hyatt Regency)

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Fellow engineers,

       Bill's absolutely right on this one.

About 30 years ago, give or take half a decade, I worked in a company where we had a major collapse. A 350 foot tall stack crashed to the ground. Observers from our office who were on site were given the choice of "surrender your cameras and films or give up your jobs."!!!

We never did learn, beyond rumors and hearsay, what really happened. I understand that the stack had been fully lifted but had not yet been set on the anchor bolts when stack and crane both crashed. When the news reached the office (about 5 minutes later) someone observed that we had a model of both the stack and that specific crane in the model shop. Within 2 minutes both stack and crane model disappeared!!

We had both very good luck and very bad luck: the equipment fell in the direction to maximize the dollar value of the damage; but no one required so much as a band aid to treat their injuries. The incident never did make the news!

We had a major engineering audit. About five different groups, including me, analyzed the stack; we found nothing more that a couple of mistakes in arithmetic in the calcs; and we rebuilt the stack exactly as it was before. To the best of my knowledge it's still standing.


H. Daryl Richardson

----- Original Message ----- From: "Polhemus, Bill" <BPolhemus(--nospam--at)>
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2006 1:57 PM
Subject: "Comprehensive Report on Structural Failure Available to the Public" (WAS: Hyatt Regency)

Someone asked if there was a publicly-available report on the famous KC
Regency Hyatt failure on the Internet or elsewhere.

The primary reason that you will typically not find a comprehensive,
all-inclusive "failure report" of a structure where criminal activity is
absent, is the litigation process.

First of all, you have MULITIPLE experts involved, as many (at least) as
there are litigants. Each "expert" is likely to come up with his or her
version of what happened, not least because they represent a certain
point of view-that of their ultimate client. If an expert provides their
client (or rather, the client's attorney) with a version of events that
is not likely to help the client's case, that report will almost
certainly never see the light of day. While the nature of engineers is
not to advocate for a particular point of view, that is PRECISELY the
nature of the legal profession. And it should never be doubted that the
legal professional is running things. The ultimate objective is to make
sure the attorney's client is seen in the best light possible.

Last of all, the great majority of such cases are settled out-of-court,
and the typical settlement invariably includes some provision that the
litigant, even if he has to pay "damages," accepts no culpability (he is
only trying to save the expense of further litigation, or at least
that's the fig-leaf reason given) and any information that might
indicate culpability is afterward suppressed as part of the settlement.

I suspect that there is a lot of interesting information that was
generated regarding the KC Regency Hyatt. I would be willing to wager,
however, that such information will never be revealed until a couple of
generations of humanity has passed away, if then.

William L. Polhemus, Jr. P.E.
Senior Associate
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
Engineers I Architects I Material Scientists
10235 West Little York, Suite 245
Houston, Texas 77040
P: 832-467-2177 F: 832-467-2178
http://www <blocked::http://www/>

<<Polhemus, Bill.vcf>>

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