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Second Boeing Whistleblower Found Dead

After a two-week battle with a sudden fast-spreading infection, Joshua Dean, a former quality auditor at Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems, passed away. Dean had recently given a deposition alleging that his firing in 2023 was in retaliation for having disclosed what he called “serious and gross misconduct by senior quality management of the 737 production line.”

The Boeing 737 MAX has a troubled safety record, with high-profile crashes in 2018 and 2019 killing hundreds, and an Alaska Airlines flight in early 2024 that had to make an emergency landing after an explosive decompression due to an insufficiently secured door plug.

According to The Seattle Times, Dean was 45 years old, in relatively good health, and known for a healthy lifestyle. In February, he spoke to NPR about Spirit’s troubling safety practices.

"Now, I'm not saying they don't want you to go out there and inspect a job … but if you make too much trouble, you will get the Josh treatment,” Dean said, about his previous firing. “I think they were sending out a message to anybody else. If you are too loud, we will silence you.”

Dean’s death comes two months after another Boeing whistleblower, John Barnett, was found dead of a potentially self-inflicted gunshot wound. Barnett was also in the process of testifying against Boeing about potential safety lapses in the manufacturing of the Boeing 787, and claims that he was similarly retaliated against for his whistleblowing. Barnett was 63 at the time of his death, and known for a vocal criticism of what he perceived to be Boeing’s declining production standards.

Dean’s attorney Brian Knowles, whose firm also represented Barnett, refused to speculate on whether the two deaths are linked, but insisted that people like Dean and Barnett are important.

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

Possible Preaching Angle:

Sometimes telling the truth can be costly. But this should never inhibit us from standing for the truth.

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