WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - A former quality auditor at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita who turned whistleblower has died following a sudden illness, his family said Tuesday.

Joshua Dean, 44, previously said he was fired from his job at Spirit for questioning standards.

Dean's aunt, Carol Parsons, said Dean went to the hospital after he experienced trouble breathing roughly two weeks ago. 

Parsons said her nephew was intubated, and his condition began to worsen. 

"The doctor had a talk with Josh, Dennis and myself," Pearsons says. "He told us that Josh has a 50/50 chance of living. His lungs are totally whited out from infection."

His mother wrote on Facebook that he had contracted pneumonia and suffered a stroke following an MSRA infection.

Dean's death comes weeks after a former Boeing quality manager, John Barnett who worked for Boeing's North Charleston plant, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on March 9. 

Leading up to his death, the 62-year-old had been giving evidence in a whistle blower lawsuit against the company and was in Charleston for legal interviews for the lawsuit.

In 2022, Dean identified drilling errors on 737 MAX fuselages that fall to supervisors, the Wichita Business Journal reported. A month later, he was moved to another area, leaving the 737 group.

The lawsuit said Dean was fired five months later, saying, "Spirit attempted to justify his termination on demonstrably false grounds."

Dean filed complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Labor. There is also a class action lawsuit against Spirit filed by investors in the company which he is listed as a witness in.

In legal documents he alleges management was aware of problems with the 737 Max and hit it.

Spirit AeroSystems released the following statement to KAKE News on Thursday: "Our thoughts are with Josh Dean’s family. This sudden loss is stunning news here at Spirit and for his loved ones.”

Attorney Brian Knowles who was representing Dean says whistle blowers are very important to society as a whole because they're the ones who bring corruption to light. 

"They play a crucial role in the fight for accountability," he said.

He says he doesn't want to speculate about the two whistle blowers dying this year. He just hopes this doesn't scare people from speaking up if they see something. He also said there are protections for whistle blowers with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.