“I Pray Boeing Pays” Found Scrawled in Suicide Note of Safety Whistleblower

May 17, 2024 / Share your comments...

A Boeing whistleblower who was found dead in his truck in Charleston, South Carolina two and a half months ago, died by suicide, the city coroner announced today. Sixty-two-year-old John Barnett was found in his pickup truck with a gunshot wound to the head and a gun in his hand.  Additionally, the coroner explained that security camera footage of Barnett’s truck showed no one entering or exiting it from the time Barnett was seen backing it into a space at the Holiday Inn the night of March 8, until hotel personnel discovered his body the following morning.

And while the coroner’s statement brings to an end internet speculation that Boeing may have had a hand in Barnett’s death, several phrases in a note left on the passenger seat of the truck suggest Barnett was under tremendous emotional pressure related to his feud with the plane maker.

Bury me face down so Boeing and their (redacted) lying leaders can kiss my (redacted)“, reads one sentence.  Another says “I can’t do this any longer!!! Enough!!!” Below that he writes, “I pray Boeing pays.” The note also includes this thought, “I found my purpose! I’m at peace!

Barnett’s battle with Boeing targeted the 787 Dreamliner and briefly the 737 Max. The 30-year Boeing employee claimed between 2014 and 2016 he observed metal shavings in wiring that could trigger arcing and short-circuiting, parts being installed without documentation, and the use on some planes of parts that did not conform to regulations.

Barnett claimed Boeing retaliated against him for raising these safety issues. Hours before he took his life, he testified he was transferred in 2015 from working on airplanes to managing parts.

“So by moving me from working production to basically manager of the parts store was, yeah, it was a pretty hard slap in the face. I mean, with 30 years’ experience, they’re putting me in a parts store. I mean that’s…a parts segregation area—that was pretty, pretty humiliating.”

He was subjected to hostility at work and retaliation according to the suit he filed against the company. And his name topped the list on an internal Boeing memo titled “Quality Managers to get rid of”.

On the weekend of his suicide he was already halfway through a multi-day deposition in his appeal to an earlier dismissal of his case which is why the timing troubled his family and his lawyers.  Then on April 30th another whistleblower, Joshua Dean, who worked for Boeing subcontractor Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita, Kansas, died unexpectedly and a real frenzy of suspicion began. This could be seen on the internet but was likely taking place in airports, on airplanes and around water coolers too.

Barnett’s brother, Rodney told a Channel 5 in Charleston that the case had taken a toll on John.

“He was suffering from PTSD and anxiety attacks as a result of being subjected to the hostile work environment at Boeing, which we believe led to his death,” Rodney said.

Lawyers for Barnett, Rob Turkowitz and Brian Knowles met with the Charleston coroner last week to be briefed on the materials that were released to journalists today. In light of the evidence, talk that Boeing could have been involved in the shooting will likely begin to ebb. Barnett’s lawyers say they will continue the civil case against Boeing on behalf of his estate.


The Worrisome Death of a Second Boeing Airliner Quality Critic

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