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Paul Munger, Hyatt Walkway Collapse Investigator and Design License Arbiter, Dies at 82

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Paul R. Munger, 82, a Missouri civil engineer and longtime educator who probed the fatal 1981 Hyatt Regency skywalk collapse and chaired the board that revoked the licenses of its designers, died on April 19 in Rolla, Mo. The cause of death was not disclosed.

MUNGER
As Missouri Board for Architects, Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors chairman, Munger was among the experts who investigated the Hyatt incident. They found the collapse of two vertically contiguous atrium walkways was linked to design issues; 114 were killed and 216 were injured, making it the deadliest U.S. structural collapse till 9-11.

Munger also led the board that, in 1986, stripped engineering licenses of structural engineer Jack Gillum, an associate and their firm for not thoroughly reviewing design changes to supporting steel tie rods.

A state court upheld the ruling. Munger implemented post-collapse licensing practices and became an engineering ethics leader. "Responsibility was delegated [at the Hyatt] but not really picked up, and you can't let that happen," said Munger in 2011.

Munger taught for 41 years at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, and chaired its civil engineering program. He also directed its Institute of River Studies, was a recognized expert on Missouri and Mississippi river environmental issues, and founded a consulting firm that specialized in water resources and hydrology. The firm merged with Benton & Associates in 2012.

Munger was president of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying and chaired the American Society of Civil Engineers' committee on professional conduct. He was an ASCE fellow and cited by the council for leading the design registration changes.

Munger, who won many national and state awards, was "an inspiration to thousands of students," says Col. Leon E. McKinney, retired commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District.

 

 

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