Wilkes 2011 alum Borzell dies, leaves impact on his professors

Kirstin Cook, Editor-in-Chief

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Motorcycle helmet in hand, John Beno Borzell used to stop by Prahlad Murthy’s office in the Stark Learning Center on a regular basis while he was a student. With a smile on his face, he would ask Murthy to unlock one of the environmental engineering and earth science laboratories to access the GPS equipment.
“He would be one of the earliest ones to show up to get into the room and use the instruments,” said Murthy, an EEES professor.
Murthy said he would always joke with Borzell and tell him he was going to charge him a fee. That daily interaction was something that Murthy said he always enjoyed, because of Borzell’s good-natured and conversational manner.
On Thursday, Sept. 1, Borzell was involved in a motorcycle crash in Hughestown. He died on Sept. 4 from blood loss, according to Karley Atiyeh, who was a close friend and is a junior criminology and psychology major at Wilkes. Borzell was 22 years old.
Borzell’s family notified Atiyeh shortly after the accident and she stayed at the hospital with his family members for three straight days. She waited until Saturday to finally hear from doctors about the extent of Borzell’s condition.
“The doctors didn’t really tell us much, there were hours between when they were coming out to say what was going on with him,” Atiyeh said.  “So pretty much the entire family was there up until Saturday evening, and the doctors finally told us Saturday what was going on with him, and it was really hard.”
Atiyeh said the crash occurred when Borzell’s motorcycle brakes locked up, which sent him and his bike into a stop sign.
It is unknown what caused them to malfunction. Atiyeh said that Borzell was always cautious on his bike and always wore his helmet, including during the crash.
“He wasn’t reckless about it, I wish I knew how the bike locked up and everything; no one really knows,” Atiyeh said.
Atiyeh said Borzell had been on his way home from exercising with friends at the gym when his motorcycle crashed. His friends were in a car behind him and saw the accident.
Atiyeh said working out was one thing that Borzell loved to do. He also enjoyed being with his family and his dog.
“He was obsessed with his dog, Noel. That was like his favorite person in the world,” Atiyeh said.
She said that Borzell had a goofy sense of humor, but at the same time he was very serious about school.

Atiyeh said there were often times when he would stay up until 5 a.m. studying, and would be right back in class at 8 a.m. That type of work and dedication, along with his pleasant personality and love for his family, was what Atiyeh said he would like to be remembered for.
Murthy saw this dedication every time Borzell came early to spend hours in the EEES laboratories. Even with a heavy workload, Murthy never observed him become upset.
“He was always smiling. I never saw him getting frustrated or getting angry,” Murthy said.
Murthy appreciated this constant positive attitude in the classroom, which he said is a rarity for the majority of students.
“That might not mean a lot of things to others, but as an instructor, it made my work so much easier – to have a pleasant face in the classroom,” Murthy said.
Borzell’s outlook, along with his work ethic, was a major way that he contributed to the EEES department, and Murthy said that others also noticed these traits.
“He was a great ambassador, I mean one would never tell anything negative about him, and I’ve never heard anything negative from his mouth,” Murthy said.
Sid Halsor, who was also one of Borzell’s EEES professors, got to know Borzell better outside of the classroom, in laboratories, meetings and field work. Halsor said he made a good role model for other students in how he would conduct himself and approach assignments and tasks.
“From a field scientist standpoint, he was like a dream student,” Halsor said.
Halsor attended a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Borzell and a few other EEES students to practice using equipment and collecting data. He said that Borzell gave up an internship so he could attend the trip, so it meant a lot to him. Halsor said Borzell had an “intense love of the outdoors and all things natural.”
Borzell had just started working as an Environmental Scientist at Enviro-Sciences of Delaware seven weeks ago.
Murthy said that Borzell entered the work force well-prepared to tackle any problems thrown at him with his well-rounded education and work ethic. These characteristics are some of the many that Murthy regrets not being able to express appreciation for before Borzell’s death.
“It’s sad that we realize it now, we could have said these things before … but he left so many pleasant memories, we need to thank him for that,” Murthy said.
Memories of having Borzell’s daily visits to his office are going to be some of the fondest for Murthy to reflect on, and will be some of the moments he will miss the most.
“I’d see him all day,” Murthy said, “His helmet in his hand, walking here, asking for the keys and then I would just tease him –  ‘show me the money’ or something – I’m going to miss that…it’s going to be hard.”

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