Morris Wortman, 72, was facing multiple lawsuits over the fertility fraud when the plane's wings broke apart mid-flight, killing him and his pilot.
A prominent New York doctor accused of fertility fraud died over Memorial Day weekend after the hand-built plane he was on catastrophically fell apart mid-flight and plummeted to the earth. The doctor, 72-year-old Morris Wortman, was killed, as was the pilot and plane’s owner, 70-year-old Earl Luce Jr.
As reported by WIVB, a press release from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office said the plane — identified as a Wittman W-5 Buttercup — appeared to have broken apart during the flight. The wings of the plane “became detached from the fuselage” and fell into an orchard, as the fuselage flew an additional 1,000 to 1,500 yards before crashing into an orchard.
“You don’t expect to see a plane coming apart in the air,” Howard Dix, who witnessed the crash after hearing a strange noise outside his barn, told WIVB. “I thought people jumped out of it, like the parachute because there was a separation of stuff from the plane and it took a few seconds to realize that wasn’t what was happening. I just knew it was going to be bad.”
Police described the plane as an “experimental homemade plane, a very small plane.” But one of its passengers, Wortman, had a big reputation.
A well-known OBGYN who operated in western New York, Wortman started facing accusations of fertility fraud in 2021. Then, a woman named Morgan Hellquist filed a lawsuit against him. Her mother had been one of Wortman’s patients in the 1980s, but Hellquist — who had also been one of his gynecological patients — discovered via a genealogy test that Wortman was her biological father.
Hellquist realized the truth when her genealogy test revealed several half-siblings. Her suit accused Wortman of “gross, wanton, and willful fraud.”
“Then there was five of us and we were all the same age. And six, and then seven, and it started to feel like, well, if there’s seven, there might be 20 and if there’s 20, there might be 100. And I started to feel terrified,” Hellquist told ABC 7 of her discovery.
Brothers Brian and Chris Muench, whose mother had also been one of Wortman’s patients, discovered to their shock that she was also allegedly one of his victims. After hearing about the accusations against Wortman, Chris looked up the results of an old DNA test. He “clicked the family tab and… saw all these half-siblings,” according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
Brian noted that the discovery “changes everything but it changes nothing” and that “I don’t really consider Dr. Wortman at all part of my life.”
Another of the half-siblings, David Berry, said that the discovery was difficult for him to accept.
“I’m the product of something that should have never happened with an unconscionable violation of ethics at a minimum,” he told ABC 7. “[Wortman is] someone I can’t escape because his DNA is in me; his DNA is in my son. I wrestle with that. From the first time I held my son, that man was in the room with me.”
Morris Wortman never commented on the charges levied against him. Hellquist’s suit is still pending in Monroe County Court.
After reading about the death of Morris Wortman, the fertility doctor who died when the handmade plane he was riding fell apart mid-flight, discover the stories of other doctors who were secretly using their own sperm to inseminate women. Or learn about Harold Shipman, the terrifying doctor-turned-serial-killer who murdered at least 15 of his patients.