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Boeing Whistleblower’s Attorneys Say They "Didn’t See Any Indication" of Suicide Risk

After Boeing whistleblower John Barnett's tragic death during his deposition against the company, the man's attorneys are speaking out about his alleged suicide.

The 62-year-old Louisiana-based whistleblower had traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to finally be deposed for his 2017 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) complaint against his ex-employer when, as his attorney Brian Knowles told the Corporate Crime Reporter blog, he failed to show up to one of the sessions over the weekend.

Knowles and his co-counsel, Rob Turkewitz, were unable to reach Barnett by phone and thus contacted the hotel he was staying at — which was when the retired Boeing worker's body was found in his car.

In an initial autopsy report, as local and national news indicates, the Charleston County Coronoer's Office said that the 32-year Boeing employee appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound — but his lawyers, Knowles and Tukewitz, are urging investigators to take a closer look.

"John was in the midst of a deposition in his whistleblower retaliation case, which finally was nearing the end," the attorneys told Futurism in an emailed statement. "He was in very good spirits and really looking forward to putting this phase of his life behind him and moving on."

"We didn't see any indication he would take his own life," the statement continues. "No one can believe it."

Although Barnett did indicate that his time at Boeing, where he spent 32 years in quality control and multiple decades as a manager, resulted in stress after his superiors began retaliating against him for raising safety concerns at the company's SC plant, previous reports have not suggested that he had deeper mental health issues or experienced suicidal ideation.

To be fair, people who plan to end their lives don't always show visible signs of risk. But given that Barnett was, as his attorneys pointed out, nearing the end of his protracted battle, the circumstances surrounding his untimely death do indeed seem eyebrow-raising.

In statements to the BBC and other media outlets, Boeing offered condolences on Barnett's death and said its "thoughts are with his family and friends." We've reached out to the company to ask if it has a response to the lawyers' latest statement.

Charleston police, meanwhile, have said that they're "actively investigating this case and are awaiting the formal cause of death, along with any additional findings that might shed further light on the circumstances" of Barnett's death, as sergeant Anthony Gibson told local broadcaster WCSC.

The whistleblower's attorneys said in their statement that they urge investigators to look into Barnett's death "fully and accurately," adding that "no detail can be left unturned."

"We are all devasted," Knowles and Turkewitz wrote. "We need more information about what happened to John."

More on Boeing: Pilot Lost Control of Boeing Jet Because Gauges “Went Blank," Causing Nosedive