Manhasset couple dies in Massachusetts plane crash

Manhasset couple dies in Massachusetts plane crash
Jodi Cohen and Dr. L. Michael Graver (Photo courtesy of the Graver Family/Northwell Health)

Those who knew Jodi Cohen and Dr. L Michael Graver as a couple knew them to be an adventurous, fun-loving pair whose distinct personalities made them perfectly complementary.

Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate memories of the inseparable Manhasset couple at a joint funeral Tuesday after Cohen, a real estate saleswoman, and Graver, chief of adult cardiac surgery at North Shore University Hospital, died in a plane crash on Saturday.

Graver, 65, was piloting the plane, which crashed in a residential area of Woburn, Massachusetts. He and Cohen, 52, were the only people aboard, and no one on the ground was injured.

The funeral at Temple Judea stopped traffic on Searingtown Road in Manhasset.

Jon Cohen, who performed surgery with Graver, emphasized the results of Graver’s confident, precise skills at the funeral.

“The results of his talents are incalculable,” Cohen said. “There are literally thousands of people living productive lives and hundreds of people alive today celebrating weddings, birthdays, births, graduations, communions and bat mitzvahs because of his extraordinary skills.”

The plane took off from Republic Airport in Farmingdale around 9:33 a.m. and was headed for Bedford, Massachusetts, according to the office of Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan.

It crashed in a wooded area behind a home shortly after 11 a.m., about seven miles from Hanscom Air Force Base, where it was expected to land.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing, Ryan’s office said. A news release noted “no foul play is expected.”

The aircraft was a small single-engine 2006 Columbia LC41, which Graver owned.

The couple was going to meet Graver’s son Adam and his wife, Puneet Bhullar, for lunch, according to Newsday. Adam is an orthopedic surgeon in Olympia, Washington, but was in Boston for a medical conference.

Graver’s love of flying occupied many of his weekends, said David Brody, vice president of Northwell’s cardiothoracic services.

“It was something he loved,” Brody said.

Graver held a pilot and medical certificate, the two certifications the Federal Aviation Administration requires for private pilots. His most recent private pilot certificate was issued in June 2014.

Adam Graver said that the last year of his father’s life was the happiest he’d ever seen Graver. When he did not get the normal post-landing text from his father and Cohen on Saturday, he knew that something was wrong.

“The floor was taken out from under our feet, and there was nothing to stand on,” Adam said in a speech at the funeral. “So here we are now, still floating, and I’m not sure when I’m going to land.”

Graver had been a surgeon at Northwell since 1985, starting out at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center before transferring to the Sandra Bass Heart Hospital two years ago.

In New York’s 2013-15 adult cardiac surgery report, Graver was one of three surgeons cited as a having a risk-adjusted mortality rate for his surgical patients that was significantly lower than the state’s average.

Brody remembered Graver as a kind man, who opened his home to co-workers during a snowstorm and who would buy pizza for the staff every month.

Graver also trained physicians in cardiac surgery and would film some operations he conducted to use as teaching tools.

Cohen went into local real estate after working in finance. As a salesperson at Douglas Elliman, she made herself recognizable to all of Manhasset, posting advertisements for herself on Northern Boulevard.

At the funeral, Cohen’s niece and nephew painted her as both a motherly figure and close friend to them, even buying them a puppy after they petitioned her for one.

“In a small family of relatively neurotic socially awkward individuals, Auntie was the cool one that made me look good by association,” joked Cohen’s nephew Eric Kotin during his speech at the funeral.

Cohen and Graver would have celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary on Sept. 26.

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