Coroner’s Report Reveals Boeing Whistleblower’s Cause of Death

Coroner’s Report Reveals Boeing Whistleblower’s Cause of Death

Details surrounding the death of John Barnett, a corporate whistleblower who was in the midst of suing aviation giant Boeing when he was found dead in a parking lot earlier this year, have finally been revealed.

Barnett was a former quality control engineer at Boeing who accused the company of serious safety infractions. His body was discovered on March 9th after he failed to show up to court for his latest deposition. Barnett was found in his truck, which was in the parking lot of the Charleston, South Carolina, motel where he had been staying during court proceedings. On Friday, the coroner’s office in Charleston released its final assessment of his death.

It was previously reported that Barnett died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, which led to the natural presumption that he had died by suicide. However, the odd circumstances of Barnett’s death—amidst a litigation effort against the powerful aviation company—instantly launched conspiracy theories that blamed Boeing for his death.

The coroner’s new report does nothing to dispel the notion that Barnett took his own life. Its verdict is that his “cause of death was determined to be: Gunshot Wound of the Head” and that the “manner of death is best deemed” as suicide. The report provides details about how Barnett’s body was found and the investigation that took place to assess how he died.

One section of the report details the surveillance footage that was taken of Barnett’s vehicle in the hours before his death. This video, which was retrieved from security cameras stationed both inside the hotel and the hotel parking lot, shows that nobody was seen near Barnett’s car except for him, the report says:

A thorough review of the footage revealed Mr. Barnett entered the hotel lobby on March 8, 2024, at 1926 hours. He exited the hotel at 2037 hours. At 2045 hours, his truck was observed backing into the parking space where it was later discovered. Video surveillance recordings continuously record his vehicle. Throughout the review of surveillance video spanning the evening of March 8th through the morning of March 9th, from the time the vehicle was backed into the parking space until the Charleston Fire Department gained entry to the vehicle, no other individuals were seen entering or exiting Mr. Barnett’s vehicle. At no time did anyone engage or try to make contact with Mr. Barnett. The vehicle brake lights were captured blinking on and off at 0720 hours on March 9, 2024.

The report also mentions that “a notebook containing writing resembling a suicide note” was discovered inside the truck with Barnett. On the topic of this note, the coroner continues:

The writings found in the vehicle were examined by the Charleston Police Department and found only Mr. Barnett’s fingerprints on the notebook. The writings contained information known only to his family.

The coroner’s report blames Barnett’s death on mental health and stress issues spurred by the ongoing lawsuit, as well as other issues:

“A review of medical records and interviews with Mr. Barnett’s family, attorneys, and healthcare professionals, revealed Mr. Barnett was under chronic stress in the context of the lawsuit, suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and grieved the death of his wife.”

Barnett’s family had claimed that his death was the result of mental health issues. The family accused Boeing of having contributed to the stress that eventually led him to take his own life. “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,” the family’s statement reads.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a crisis, please reach out immediately to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 988 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. These services are free and confidential.

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