Surgeon dies in crash

Surgeon dies in crash

There are 15 comments on the Palo Alto Daily News story from Aug 13, 2008, titled Surgeon dies in crash. In it, Palo Alto Daily News reports that:

The last year of John Borchers' life, friends and family said, might have been his best.
The last year of John Borchers' life, friends and family said, might have been his best. <br/> <br/>In just his second year as a clinical instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine, Borchers was blazing a research path he hoped would lead to a revolutionary neurosurgical remedy for addiction. At home in Palo Alto, the move from private practice to academia had opened his evenings and weekends to the family time he always regretted missing. <br/> <br/>Suddenly he had time to whisk Michele, his wife of 20 years, to Mexico and Tahiti. He cooked messy, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink "daddy dinners" for his three teenage children. He enrolled in flying classes, and in June he landed his first solo flight, with Michele waving and taking pictures. <br/> <br/>Born on Nov. 26, 1966, he had an unsettled childhood as the son of an itinerant Navy captain. As a father, husband and doctor, Borchers seemed to have found satisfaction and success in spades. <br/> <br/>Last Thursday, for reasons that remain obscure, he checked out a Cessna 172 from his flying club at the Palo Alto Airport for a nighttime jaunt to Reno, Nev. Sometime before 3 a.m. Friday, the plane smashed into a remote mountainside near Incline Village, Nev., killing him instantly. <br/> <br/>He was 41. <br/> <br/>Family and friends are left to grieve for a man of boyish exuberance and irrepressible intellect without fully understanding the events that led to his death. <br/> <br/>His wife and two daughters were away in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and his son was in the last week of a two-month volunteer stint in Paraguay when Borchers scheduled his flight to Reno. His lab partner, neurosurgery professor John Adler, said Borchers was expected back at work Friday. While he could be impetuous, he was never known to miss a day without cause, he said. <br/> <br/>Michele Borchers speculates her husband was practicing his night landings. Adler supposes he just chose an odd time to log more flight hours. <br/> <br/>NTSB probing crash <br/> <br/>The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, but the inquiry could take several months, said Ian Gregor, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. There were no witnesses, and authorities only learned of the crash early Friday via a distress signal from the plane's emergency locator transmitter. <br/> <br/>Whatever happened, it left a hole in a happy family and will set back a promising line of medical research. <br/> <br/>When she met him at Novato High School in Marin County, Michele said John was ambitious and studious, the type who carried "pencils in his pockets." <br/> <br/>He had decided in fourth grade he would be a doctor. By his first year of college at Northwestern University, he had homed in on neurosurgery. <br/> <br/>"His grades were lower than they should have been" for admission to medical school, Borchers said, "but he believed in himself. He was the kind of person who set a goal and then did it, no matter what." <br/> <br/>He was accepted by the University of Texas Southwestern, completed his residency at SUNY-Buffalo in 1998 and entered private practice back in Santa Rosa, where he honed an expertise in pain management and addiction. <br/> <br/>Ready at a second's notice for adventure, Borchers spent his scant spare time surfing, driving fast cars and motorcycles and taking the kids on day trips to Dillon Beach, where he would entertain them by playing Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" on guitar. <br/> <br/>"He was willing to try anything," Michele said. "Somebody would say, 'Let's go waterskiing,' and even though he'd never done it, he'd say, 'Alright, cool!'" <br/> <br/>But the unrelenting work schedule left him feeling disconnected from his family, and in 2006 he jumped to the Stanford University School of Medicine after impressing Adler in an interview. <br/> <br/>Groundbreaking research <br/> <br/>Adler, inventor of a leading-edge radiosurgery system called CyberKnife, said Borchers came to him with an idea to apply the technology to treat the neurological roots of addiction. The two launched a research program and worked up a flurry of papers on it, several of which are now wending through the publication process. <br/> <br/>"Intellectually, it was one of the most engaging times of my 20-year career," Adler said. <br/> <br/>Borchers was equally thrilled by the groundbreaking work, his wife said. "He wanted to be famous. He wanted to win the Nobel Prize." <br/> <br/>All this was happening on a 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule that afforded Borchers, for the first time, a central place in his family's home life. <br/> <br/>He threw himself into making up for lost time with his kids, taking them on thrill rides at Great America and challenging them in the video game, "Rock Band." <br/> <br/>When he cooked, he would throw together "potatoes, chicken, vegetables, Tabasco sauce, anything," said daughter Lauren Borchers, 14. "The kitchen would be such a mess." <br/> <br/>Even in the eyes of a teenager, he could come across as impulsive. <br/> <br/>"He would see something cool and all of a sudden he'd want to do that," Lauren said. "One time he watched a show about Marc Jacobs and decided he wanted to be a designer. One of his friends learned how to fly a plane, and then he wanted to try it." <br/> <br/>Once Borchers put the whole family in stitches by dressing the dog, Amy, in his own lab coat, glasses and hat. <br/> <br/>Michele said, "This past year was probably the best year of our lives. We had time together, and it was really quality time. We would drive in the convertible and he'd have the top down, the wind in his hair. God, he loved life." <br/> <br/>Doyle John Borchers III is survived by his wife Michele, son Adam, and daughters Grace and Lauren, all of Palo Alto; father Capt. Doyle Borchers II of Napa; and sister Wendy Muendler of Bangkok, Thailand. <br/> <br/>E-mail Will Oremus at woremus@dailynewsgroup.com.
Susy Howard

Hume, VA

#1 Aug 13, 2008
Your article was very nice and well deserved for a wonderful young man. However, your characterization of John's life as a "Navy Junior" ---"unsettled childhood of an itinerant Navy Captain" (Captain should be capitalized, since it is a rank)-- is an unfortunate description of a life of Public Service. John's father, Captain Doyle Borcher, USN (Ret.); is a graduated of the United States Naval Academy, and had a distinquished 30 year Naval career which include among other duties captaining a United States Aircraft Carrier.
As friends and classmates of Captain Doyle Borcher we resent the description of our lives as "itinerant" and our children as having "unsettled childhoods".
United States Naval Academy Class of 1965
Captain (ret.) and Mrs. Hugh Wyman Howard, Jr. and Rear Admiral(ret.) and Mrs. Edward Kristensen
Sarah

United States

#2 Aug 13, 2008
Wow - I understand this is an obituary, but I'm surprised by the lack of information about his pilot training. The Daily Post goes into much more detail about the circumstances of the flight which makes this even more tragic.
Stacie

Richmond, CA

#3 Aug 13, 2008
Are you kidding me? A wonderful man has lost his life. A woman has lost her husband. Children have lost their father and someone has the nerve to be worried about what is CAPITALIZED?! This tragic event isn't about what his father did for a living.
Stacie

Richmond, CA

#4 Aug 13, 2008
John...you will be greatly missed and never forgotten!
Jerry and Marilyn Zitzer

Richmond, CA

#5 Aug 13, 2008
Our grief goes out to the family and to the children. John sleep well your mother missed you. we miss you and all loved you in marin.
with deepest memories marilyn
Jim Williams

Novato, CA

#6 Aug 14, 2008
I have worked closely with Dr, Borchers for over two years, day and night.
This Doctor showed us what being compassionate is really about.
I believe the greatest gift we can give is our time.
I have never seen another give more of himself over my 30 + years in medicine.
John, We will miss you terribly.
We will walk strong and with joy in your memory.
May God bless his family and his work.
Cheryl Peralta Marin

United States

#7 Aug 14, 2008
I worked with John in Marin and in Santa Rosa. My heart goes out to Michelle and his children that he loved so much. He was a brilliant surgeon and specialist. He was a free spirit and I will always remember the time he came to his Marin office riding his new motorcycle with that big happy grin on his face and the times he described his surfing antics. At least he died doing a sport that he loved and found challenging. He will be missed.
Hal Spring

Stanford, CA

#8 Aug 14, 2008
What was he doing flying in a manner that he was not authorized to do (see Daily Post story for details) at that time of night?
At least he did not take anyone else with him
Confused

India

#9 Aug 14, 2008
Hal - reminds me a bit of JFK, Jr. -- perhaps overestimated his skill at this point, which is easy to do. Particularly when you are a successful surgeon with a lot of confidence in your abilities. We are all vulnerable, it appears.
Jim Williams

Novato, CA

#10 Aug 15, 2008
John was a great Spirit .
I, for one, hope to never loose the giving nature he demonstrated.
Lou

Sunnyvale, CA

#11 Aug 15, 2008
John was a good friend for many years. I spent a year kicking him off the top bunk, and it was the most fun I've ever had. Even though the Kappa Sigma house is now closed, a blue light is shining in room 42.
Alex

Vallejo, CA

#12 Aug 19, 2008
It's sad to hear about Borcher's death. His death is a major loss for everyone -- it kond of reminds me of JFK Jr.'s death. The article said he had flown to Reno - I don't know if I would have flown to Reno as a student pilot. The elevation can make any flight a nightmare.
Mike Landi

Hamburg, NY

#13 Sep 3, 2008
John...Words can not describe what I feel.
Adam, Grace and Lauren your father was VERY proud of you and loved you VERY much. Michelle, John truely loved you....my heart goes out to you. I miss you John...
Silence Dogood

San Diego, CA

#14 Mar 4, 2010
Susy Howard wrote:
Your article was very nice and well deserved for a wonderful young man. However, your characterization of John's life as a "Navy Junior" ---"unsettled childhood of an itinerant Navy Captain" (Captain should be capitalized, since it is a rank)-- is an unfortunate description of a life of Public Service. John's father, Captain Doyle Borcher, USN (Ret.); is a graduated of the United States Naval Academy, and had a distinquished 30 year Naval career which include among other duties captaining a United States Aircraft Carrier.
As friends and classmates of Captain Doyle Borcher we resent the description of our lives as "itinerant" and our children as having "unsettled childhoods".
United States Naval Academy Class of 1965
Captain (ret.) and Mrs. Hugh Wyman Howard, Jr. and Rear Admiral(ret.) and Mrs. Edward Kristensen
Exactly the nose-in-the-air retort I'd expect from the wife of a Hugh Wyman Howard.
Jake Tardiff

Boston, MA

#15 Jan 1, 2016
Silence Dogood wrote:
<quoted text>
Exactly the nose-in-the-air retort I'd expect from the wife of a Hugh Wyman Howard.
I think the point she was making was that you always show respect for their service. Both civilian and military. As far as you "expecting" that comment from a Howard are you referencing there dedicated service to the military and the fact that things are expected to be presented and performed a certain way 100% of the time? You just sound like a bitter person and there is nothing nose-in-the-air about her response. She just wants to make sure respect is given where due.
Sorry for your loss

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