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Manhasset plane crash victims recalled as dedicated to careers, family

Dr. L. Michael Graver and Jodi Cohen died Saturday when their small plane crashed in Massachusetts, where they had gone to visit Graver's son and wife.

Jodi Cohen and her husband, Dr. L. Michael

Jodi Cohen and her husband, Dr. L. Michael Graver, the chief of adult cardiac surgery at North Shore University Hospital, both of Manhasset, were killed when the aircraft Graver was flying crashed behind a home in Woburn, Mass., on Saturday. Photo Credit: Beth Kotin

Family and friends on Sunday remembered a Long Island surgeon and his real estate broker wife as a loving couple dedicated to their families, their careers and to each other.

Dr. L. Michael Graver, 65, and Jodi Cohen, 55, of Manhasset, died Saturday morning when their small plane crashed behind a home in Woburn, Massachusetts, authorities said. Officials have not said what caused the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board is in the very early stages of the investigation, which will include a review of the pilot's record and the plane's maintenance, a spokesman said Sunday. 

Graver, the chief of adult cardiac surgery at North Shore University Hospital, was flying a 2006 Columbia Aircraft LC41 and departed with Cohen from Republic Airport in East Farmingdale about 9:30 a.m. They were scheduled to arrive around 11 a.m. at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts, according to the FAA.

The couple was headed to Massachusetts to have lunch with Graver’s son Adam, 33, an orthopedic surgeon, and his wife, of Olympia, Washington, who were attending a medical conference in Boston, friends said Sunday. 

Graver and Cohen were adventurous and loved travel, aviation and the outdoors, friends said. Colleagues remember the couple coming back from weekend jaunts describing the places they’d flown to, including meals on Nantucket and the famed Oshkosh air show in Wisconsin.

They were “terrific together, a super couple” with many friends and a full calender of social and travel plans, said Dr. Robert Palazzo, an attending cardiac surgeon at Northwell Health.

Graver was last issued a private pilot certificate in 2014, FAA records show. Friends described him as an experienced pilot who had flown for more than a decade. Flying was a passion that he shared with his son and also with Cohen. The couple married in September 2010.

Graver and Cohen lived in a gated community of large homes and shaded streets, and they both excelled in their careers, where they were each remembered as successful, hardworking and talented.

Cohen, a certified public accountant, worked as a real estate broker at Douglas Elliman in Manhasset. She grew up in North Woodmere, attending Lawrence High School and then Adelphi University and University of Florida, where she studied accounting, her sister Beth Kotin said Sunday.

“I'm just still shocked that this happened to them,” said Kotin, 58, of Manhattan. “They were both really good people, and very close to us and my kids. So it's terrible."

Colleagues described Graver as a master surgeon whom they would trust to operate on their own loved ones. Dr. Karen Kostroff, chief of breast surgery at Northwell Health and a close family friend, said Graver “fell into the rare subset of extraordinary surgeons” and had operated on thousands of patients over his four decades practicing medicine.

He was recognized earlier this year as one of four cardiothoracic surgeons statewide with the lowest mortality rates.

Graver was “the best of a friend, the best of a physician, the best of a father and the best of a husband,” Kostroff said, adding that he was a “brilliant person" who could talk about any subject.

The couple's eighth wedding anniversary would have been on Sept. 26. A funeral will likely be held in the coming week, friends said.

“They both had a beautiful life together, and it's just a heartbreak,” said Carol Wolowitz, a family friend who lives in Manhasset. “It's just terrible heartbreak.”

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