Another Boeing Whistleblower ‘Dies Suddenly’ After Exposing Safety Scandals

For the second time in just a few weeks, a whistleblower who spoke out against Boeing’s myriad safety scandals has died suddenly. 45-year-old Joshua Dean was a young and relatively healthy worker at Spirit AeroSystem. Dean claimed last year that Boeing was ignoring serious manufacturing defects in the 737 MAX. According to his family, Dean suddenly got sick about two weeks ago and then quickly expired.

Dean filed a complaint with the FAA last year against Spirit’s leadership for “serious and gross misconduct by senior quality management of the 737 production line.”

Spirit fired Dean in April 2023, in direct violation of federal labor laws that protect whistleblowers. Dean then filed a complaint with the Labor Department because his firing was retaliatory.

Dean’s troubles with Boeing’s safety issues started in 2022. That year, he complained to management that mechanics were improperly drilling holes in the aft pressure bulkhead of the 737 MAX. Dean said his complaint to management was ignored. He was then fired after another defect was found in fittings that attach the rear tail fin to the plane’s fuselage.

“After I was fired, Spirit AeroSystems [initially] did nothing to inform the FAA, and the public,” said Dean in his whistleblower complaint. The FAA sent him a letter in 2023 noting that his safety allegations had turned out to be true in an investigation, although the agency didn’t elaborate.

A couple of weeks ago, Dean somehow contracted Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Antibiotic-resistant strains of staph infection are extremely difficult to treat. One question that reporters covering Dean’s death have failed to ask is—where did Dean contract MRSA?

The staph infection can only be spread through direct contact with another infected person, such as touching an open wound on their body or sharing their toothbrush. We bring this up because none of the news outlets covering the story have reported on it, and because it is obviously very odd for two whistleblowers from the same company to die within a short time of each other.

Dean contracted pneumonia in conjunction with the MRSA and was admitted to the hospital, where he was put on a ventilator to help him breathe. His entire family was shocked when Dean had to be rushed to the ICU because he was in relatively good health. He then had a stroke while he was in the hospital, before dying in just a few short days.

“It was brutal what he went through…heartbreaking,” said his aunt.

Dean’s death comes less than two months after Boeing whistleblower John Barnett supposedly committed suicide. The 62-year-old had worked for Boeing for 32 years before he retired in 2017. At the time of his death, Barnett was providing evidence to investigators in a deposition for a safety lawsuit against Boeing.

Barnett had told numerous close friends and members of his family that he was not suicidal, and that he was concerned for his own safety because he was testifying against Boeing. During a break in interviews for his deposition, Barnett went outside to the parking lot and was found dead in his truck. Police initially said that Barnett died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His body was found with a pistol in his hand and his finger was on the trigger. However, after friends and family informed Charleston, SC police about Barnett’s warnings and concerns, they have kept the investigation into his death open.

Boeing has been under massive scrutiny this year after a series of mid-air accidents which have included doors and wheels falling off planes. Fortunately, there have been no mass casualty events involving the planes because of safety issues. The only casualties so far appear to have been the whistleblowers.