Condo’s collapse and the need for a ‘few miracles’

In 1981, two skywalks collapsed in Kansas City's Hyatt Regency, killing 114. Today, scores of survivors, families and first responders still tumble into tears at the memory.

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Columnists

July 1, 2021 - 7:44 AM

Part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South, with more than 100 units collapsed around 2 a.m. on Thursday, June 24, 2021. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)

It’s been 40 years since 114 were killed and 200 others injured when two giant skywalks collapsed in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. The images from that catastrophic structural failure — chunks of the walkways flattened to gray rubble, firemen clawing through busted concrete in search of the living or dead, the anguish of families desperate for news — seem to have been replayed in Surfside, Florida, in recent days.

In the weeks, months and a year or more ahead, even grimmer moments will follow. And answers could take years, if they come at all.

Why did the high-rise Champlain Towers South condo building suddenly collapse in the pre-dawn hours on June 24? Whom should we blame? Will this community ever find closure over such an enveloping tragedy? As of Tuesday evening, 12 bodies had been recovered in the Surfside disaster; about 150 other people are missing.

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