Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems whistleblower Josh Dean dead

    Joshua Dean, a former quality auditor at Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems and one of the first whistleblowers to allege Spirit leadership had ignored manufacturing defects on the 737 MAX, died Tuesday morning after a struggle with a sudden, fast-spreading infection.

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    Known as Josh, Dean lived in Wichita, Kan., where Spirit is based. He was 45, had been in good health and was noted for having a healthy lifestyle.

    He died after two weeks in critical condition, his aunt Carol Parsons said.

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

    Dean had given a deposition in a Spirit shareholder lawsuit and also filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration alleging “serious and gross misconduct by senior quality management of the 737 production line” at Spirit.

    Spirit fired Dean in April 2023, and he had filed a complaint with the Department of Labor alleging his termination was in retaliation for raising concerns related to aviation safety.

    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Parsons said Dean became ill and went to the hospital because he was having trouble breathing just over two weeks ago. He was intubated and developed pneumonia and then a serious bacterial infection, MRSA.

    MRSA is usually spread in the community by contact with infected people or things that are carrying the bacteria. This includes through contact with a contaminated wound or by sharing personal items, such as towels or razors, that have touched infected skin. it is possible that Dean was exposed to the bacteria on purpose.

    His condition deteriorated rapidly, and he was airlifted from Wichita to a hospital in Oklahoma City, Parsons said. There he was put on an ECMO machine, which circulates and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, taking over heart and lung function when a patient’s organs don’t work on their own.

    His mother posted a message Friday on Facebook relating all those details and saying that Dean was “fighting for his life.”

    He was heavily sedated and put on dialysis. A CT scan indicated he had suffered a stroke, his mom’s post said.

    By the end, doctors were considering amputating both hands and both feet. “It was brutal what he went through,” Parsons said. “Heartbreaking.”

    Yet another hit on whistleblower?

    Dean was represented by a law firm in South Carolina that also represented Boeing whistleblower John “Mitch” Barnett.

    Barnett was found dead in March. He was in the midst of giving depositions alleging Boeing retaliated against him for complaints about quality lapses when he was found dead from a gunshot wound in Charleston, S.C., where Boeing has its 787 manufacturing facility. Newsweek published a story in March stating he had foreseen his death, indicating that it was not a suicide. Almost two months later, the police investigation into his death is still ongoing.

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


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