Boeing Whistleblower’s Suicide Blamed on Company in Coroner’s Report


The Boeing whistleblower who passed away during his lawsuit against the aerospace giant has been confirmed to have died by suicide, attributing the cause directly to his former employer.

Charleston County Coroner Bobbi Jo O’Neal’s report, released on Friday, confirmed that Barnett had shot himself in the head, and a suicide note was found beside him.

“FUCK BOEING!!!” was scrawled in capital letters, according to a Fox News review of the note. 

“Bury me face down so Boeing and their lying ass leaders can kiss my ass,” the whistleblower wrote.

“Mr. Barnett’s last words make clear that while Boeing may not have pulled the trigger, the company is responsible for his death,” Barnett’s lawyers, Robert Turkewitz and Brian Knowles, stated in a comment Fox News obtained on Tuesday:

Mr. Barnett’s family wishes to thank the coroner, responders, and all those who have expressed their support and condolences. It is hoped that John’s legacy will be his brave and courageous efforts to get Boeing to change its culture of concealment to one that prioritizes quality and safety.

The attorneys explained that investigators had shown Barnett suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and panic attacks before his suicide, which took place amid a lawsuit he had filed against Boeing for alleged retaliation after he raised safety concerns. 

Barnett’s lawyers added:

His mental condition resulted from the retaliation and hostile work environment he endured after complaining that Boeing senior management was pressuring workers to bypass legally required processes and procedures, allowing defective parts to be installed on airplanes, and ignoring problems that he believed posed a threat to public safety.

Barnett was among several employees who exposed safety malpractices at the airplane manufacturer, starting with a 2019 interview with the New York Times in which he recalled being removed from an aircraft project after warning his manager about debris that could short out the plane’s electronics and cause a fire. 

“I said, ‘I won’t sign off on it. I won’t accept it.’ So, I was removed from it,” Barnett, nicknamed “Swampy,” told reporter Natalie Kitroeff. 

“It was delivered without being cleaned,” he claimed.

Barnett asserted that debris like nuts, bolts, fasteners, rags, bubble wrap, trash, and tools were being left in aircraft machinery sections due to carelessness.

“It’s sloppy, but just shooting from the hip, I mean, 40 percent of this is critical stuff. I mean, look, you got metal shavings floating around the electronics equipment,” he said.

“I think it’s highly likely they’re on airplanes, absolutely…One of my inspectors was telling me, ‘Hey, this is what happened’…and we tried to tell him he couldn’t do it,” Barnett recounted.

The inspector said, “Don’t worry about it,” Barnett claimed.

Despite filing complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), he did not see Boeing being held responsible.

When Kitroeff asked Barnett if he would fly on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, he replied, “No, ma’am. You couldn’t pay me. Uh-uh.”

“Just understand what you’re getting into,” he advised travelers. “I mean, understand that just because it’s a brand new airplane from Boeing doesn’t mean that it was built right.”

In a late 2019 interview with BBC, Barnett also expressed concerns about Boeing’s plane oxygen systems, suggesting up to a quarter of them could be faulty during emergencies. 

Shortly before his death, Barnett told TMZ that Boeing was rushing its 737 Max 9 jets back into service too quickly after a gaping hole opened next to passengers on a January Alaska Airlines flight, forcing an emergency landing. 

Boeing has denied Barnett’s safety hazard claims, a local NBC affiliate reported

In what Fox News called an “unrelated” move, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun has announced his resignation by the end of 2024.

Olivia Rondeau
Olivia Rondeau
Digital Reporter. Previously, Olivia was a contributor at the Daily Caller, a staff writer at Foundation for Economic Education, and a Pennsylvania Campus Correspondent at Campus Reform. Prior to that, she worked in social media, research, and public relations at Arsenal Media Group. Olivia is a political science major at the East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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