Popular musician critical after drowning while rescuing niece

Amir Fryszer Guttman, 41, was at beach celebrating anniversary of date doctors informed him he had been misdiagnosed with cancer; girl, 9, safely pulled out of ocean

Israeli singer Amir Fryszer Gutman, February 6, 2017, (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 )
Israeli singer Amir Fryszer Gutman, February 6, 2017, (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 )

Former Hi Five band member and movie director Amir Fryszer Guttman, 41, was rushed to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center in critical condition Saturday after he drowned while attempting to rescue his niece, who was drifting away in the ocean off the Neve Yam beach in Atlit.

Medical teams that arrived at the scene performed CPR on Guttman before evacuating him to the hospital. The medical staff at the hospital told reporters that Guttman’s life was in danger.

Guttman’s niece, 9, was pulled out of the water safely by a group of surfers and required no medical assistance, Ynet reported.

Guttman and his family were at the beach, which had no lifeguard services, to celebrate the first anniversary of the date on which doctors informed him that he had been misdiagnosed with cancer, and that in fact, he actually had a much less severe disease.

“Amir entered the water with his niece Shachar and another friend Yael. Within moments they began drifting away,” said singer Michal Amdursky, a close personal friend of Guttman who was with him at the beach. “Amir held Shachar above water so that she wouldn’t drown. He was utterly fatigued. My husband Jeffrey and two other surfers went into the ocean to rescue him. The ocean was harsh, and did not allow them to reach the coast quickly. Amir swallowed a lot of water.”

Singer Aviv Geffen, also a friend of Guttman, took to twitter to show solidarity with the former performer. “My thoughts and heart are with Amir Fryszer Guttman,” Geffen wrote. “I hope you overcome the waves.”

In March 2016, Guttman was diagnosed by doctors at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital as suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but three months later, after undergoing several chemotherapy sessions, he was told by staff at the medical center that he did not, in fact, have cancer.

Earlier this month, Guttman filed a NIS 5 million ($1.4 million) financial lawsuit against Ichilov Hospital over the misdiagnosis.

In the 1990s, Guttman and the other members of the boy band Hi Five dominated Israel’s music charts, and the group’s hits, such as Yom Meunan (Cloudy Day), Zman Mesiba (Party Time) and Tzoeket Ahava (Screaming Love), played repeatedly on local radio stations. The band broke up in 2000, but last year announced that it would reunite. However, after Guttman was misdiagnosed with cancer and due to poor ticket sales, a reunion tour was canceled.

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