Update: The whistleblower's attorneys have now spoken out, saying they saw no sign of suicide risk.

After waiting years to say his piece, a former Boeing employee who alleged negligence in the company's quality control has turned up dead in his car amid his own whistleblower case and widespread concerns about the company's aircraft.

As the Washington Post, the BBC, and other outlets report, 62-year-old John Barnett was found deceased from what officials in Charleston, South Carolina say appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the parking lot of a hotel where he'd been staying amid his deposition about his alleged hostile workplace experience with the company.

In an email to the Corporate Crime Reporter blog, Barnett's lawyer Brian Knowles said that the Louisiana-based man's body was found after he failed to show up to a deposition session over the weekend.

"We agreed to continue this morning at 10 a.m. (co-counsel) Rob (Turkewitz) kept calling this morning and his (Barnett’s) phone would go to voicemail," the attorney said. "We then asked the hotel to check on him. They found him in his truck dead from an ‘alleged’ self-inflicted gunshot. We drove to the hotel and spoke with the police and the coroner."

Barnett had, as reports indicate, spent 32 years working for Boeing as a quality control manager before his retirement in 2017 — the same year that he filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claiming the company had illegally retaliated against him for raising concerns about quality control issues that could impact the safety of Boeing planes.

In 2022, amid a protracted legal back-and-forth, Boeing's motion to dismiss Barnett's complaint was rejected when the judge in his case said he'd presented sufficient evidence demonstrating that he'd suffered from a "hostile work environment," WaPo reports. As the case proceeded through courts, the company was accused of dragging its feet in complying with discovery in the case.

Amid his legal proceedings, Barnett had also spoken to the press on a number of occasions about what he claims to have seen during his time at Boeing. In a 2019 New York Times exposê, he was one of several ex-employees who alleged that efforts to save money and streamline production at the Charleston plant, which opened in 2010, led to corner-cutting measures that resulted in faulty equipment.

Specifically, Barnett told the NYT that when he began working at the South Carolina plant, which is where Boeing manufactures its 787 Dreamliners, found metal shavings hanging near flight command wiring. He alleged in a similar interview with the BBC that same year that he'd also found problems with oxygen systems that could result in one in four emergency breathing masks not working.

Barnett claimed that when he raised these issues to his superiors, he was met with hostility and reassignment, which became so stressful that eventually he retired and moved from SC back to his home state of Louisana.

While his OSHA case dragged on — which experts who spoke to WaPo said is unusual given that his hearing still hadn't been scheduled — Boeing safety issues have repeatedly been in the news. Most notably, an entire door plug blew out of a Boeing 737 Max 9 jet in January, leading to outrage as the company attempts to explain what went wrong at its manufacturing facility.

As such, Barnett had again begun speaking to reporters about his claims.

"Once you understand what’s happening inside of Boeing," Barnett told ABC Australia in January, "you’ll see why we’re seeing these kinds of issues."

More on plane problems: Tire Falls Off Boeing Passenger Jet During Takeoff

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