‘We were close and I’ll miss him a lot’: Friend of Rochester doctor killed in plane crash speaks out

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Dr. Morris Wortman died after a small airplane he was a passenger in crashed in Orleans County.

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean did a story on the crash, Dr. Wortman’s death, and the impact on the lawsuits against him – one alleging misconduct with a patient and her mother many years ago. 

Then, Brean heard from a friend who told him she knew a very different person. 

Brenda Washington, friend of Dr. Wortman: “I know him in so many ways, but mostly he’s just a friend I could always count on.”

Washington was a close friend of Dr. Wortman for more than 20 years. They met through a mutual friend and would fly together often with some spectacular views. 

Dr. Wortman was an experienced pilot. He died Sunday when he was a passenger in a plane that came apart and crashed in a farm field north of Albion. 

Brean: “How did that hit you?”

Washington: “Pretty hard. We were trying to make plans, speaking the day before about getting together. Things have been busy for everyone so it’s been a little while since I’ve seen him. I wish we could have made those plans happen- before this weekend, you know?”

Two years ago, a lawsuit was filed alleging he fathered several children through artificial insemination even, though his patients thought samples came from a student at the University of Rochester. 

Brean: “People made some pretty serious allegations against him.”

Washington: “Yes.”

Brean: “How do you reconcile the person you knew with that?”

Washington: “Well, first of all, they’re still only allegations. So the due course needs to happen. And I don’t think he would ever do anything maliciously to hurt anyone medically.”

Washington said Dr. Wortman was a pioneer as a doctor in his care for women. She was a patient at his clinic – but mostly a friend. 

Washington: “So we were close and I’ll miss him a lot.”

The pilot of the plane that crashed was Earl Luce. He managed the airport in Gaines, just north of Albion. 

Federal investigators say their preliminary report on the crash will be out in two to three weeks.