MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Two whistleblowers against Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems dead within two months

May 2, 2024, 7:55 AM | Updated: 9:10 am

boeing whistleblower...

Boeing employees walk the new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner down towards the delivery ramp area at the company's facility. (Photo: Mic Smith, AP file)

(Photo: Mic Smith, AP file)

An auditor-turned-whistleblower for the Boeing supplier Spirit Aerosystems died Tuesday after a two-week fight with an infection.

Joshua Dean, 45, was hospitalized with Influenza B and MRSA and developed pneumonia, according to a Facebook post from his mother. A Wichita resident, Dean was transferred to a hospital in Oklahoma City and put on an ECMO machine. It was soon discovered after a CT scan that Dean had suffered a stroke.

More from Boeing whistleblowers: Boeing production a ‘disaster waiting to happen’

Prior to his hospitalization, Dean was reportedly “in good health and was noted for having a healthy lifestyle,” according to The Seattle Times.

“Our thoughts are with Josh Dean’s family,” Spirit spokesperson Joe Buccino told The Seattle Times. “This sudden loss is stunning news here and for his loved ones.”

Dean reported a serious manufacturing defect in October 2022, claiming mechanics had improperly drilled holes in the bulkhead of the MAX. He accused management of doing nothing when he flagged the issue. Six months later, he was fired. According to The Seattle Times, the reason for his firing was his alleged failure “to conduct inspections resulting in faulty tail fin fittings being shipped to Boeing.”

Dean later made claims that Spirit Aerosystems was practicing “serious and gross misconduct by senior quality management of the 737 production line.” These claims were later presented in a civil lawsuit against Spirit by investors.

This is the second whistleblower who spoke out against Boeing and its related companies to die in the last two months.

More on previous whistleblower’s death: Boeing whistleblower found dead as the airline manufacturer’s issues snowball

John Barnett, 62, died on Saturday from a reported “self-inflicted” wound on March 9, according to a South Carolina coroner. Barnett, an employee for Boeing for 32 years until his retirement in 2017, found workers facing intense pressure from the company were fitting and using sub-standard parts on the production line when he was a quality manager. His complaints were targeted at Boeing’s North Charleston plant.

Brian Knowles, one of Dean’s lawyers, said he didn’t want to speculate about the close timing of the two deaths.

“Whistleblowers are needed. They bring to light wrongdoing and corruption in the interests of society. It takes a lot of courage to stand up,” Knowles said, according to The Seattle Times. “It’s a difficult set of circumstances. Our thoughts now are with John’s family and Josh’s family.”

Dean was represented by the same law firm in South Carolina that also represented Barnett.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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