Orleans County Sheriff’s Office
Orleans County Sheriff’s Office© Provided by The Daily Beast

Aman killed in a small plane crash in upstate New York on Sunday was identified by authorities as Dr. Morris Wortman, a gynecologist accused of using his own sperm to impregnate several of his patients.

Wortman, 72, died after the plane crashed in an Orleans County pasture, having seemingly fallen apart in mid-air, according to police. The pilot, a 70-year-old man named Earl Luce who’d bragged online about having painstakingly built the experimental aircraft by hand, was also killed.

“The preliminary investigation indicates that the wings of the aircraft became detached from the fuselage and fell to the ground landing in an orchard,” county Sheriff Christopher Bourke said in a Monday news release.

“You don’t expect to see a plane coming apart in the air,” a witness told Buffalo station 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.”

An investigation into the crash by sheriff’s deputies and the National Transportation Safety Board remained ongoing Tuesday.

Wortman was a prominent local fixture in Rochester, where he’d operated a fertility practice. He made headlines in the early 2000s for attracting the ire of militant anti-abortion protesters, some of whom threatened him with anthrax and suicide attacks.

More recently, however, Wortman was accused of “fertility fraud,” or lying about the source of the sperm he used to help some of his patients conceive. In a 2021 lawsuit, Morgan Hellquist—whose mother became pregnant after seeing him for fertility treatment in 1985—claimed to be his biological daughter.

Her medical malpractice complaint alleges that Wortman told Hellquist’s mother that the sperm donor was a local medical student. The doctor allegedly concealed his true link to Hellquist even after she herself began seeing him as a gynecology patient.

Hellquist claims she started trawling genetic databases in an effort to learn more about her background. To her horror, she eventually discovered that she had about nine half-siblings, and concluded that “her donor father had been a serial sperm donor.”

Then, during an appointment with Wortman in April 2021, Hellquist’s suspicions were aroused as the doctor talked at length about his family, childhood, and values. “At the very end of the appointment as [Hellquist] was getting ready to leave and as he was writing something down he started to chuckle to himself and said outloud [sic], ‘You’re a really good kid, such a good kid,’” the suit says.

Hellquist alleges that she was able to confirm her ties to Wortman by comparing one of her half-brother’s DNA to that of the doctor’s daughter from his first marriage.

The civil lawsuit, which remains pending in a county court, asserts that Wortman’s “wanton, reckless and malicious conduct is so outrageous in character as to violate all bounds of decency, involves high moral culpability, rises to a level of wanton dishonesty, and shocks the conscience.” The suit asks for punitive damages as a result.