The story begins in the summer of 1998 when Officer Peter Getz arrived at a fire-engulfed building in Harford to find 5-year-old Josibel Aponte unresponsive and layered in ashes.
“I almost died, but I was given a second chance at life,” Josi told the Hartford Courant.
“And it was because of Peter and all the authorities, everyone who came to help that day.”
The fateful day on June 25, 1998, Officer Peter said he had called out to a fire in the Aponte's apartment on Washington Street, arriving at the scene in the nick of time to save the then little Josi.
The fire that claimed the life of her uncle Jofrey was captured in a powerful newspaper photograph that showed Josi unconscious body carried by the officer.
Acting like a true hero, the officer immediately began performing CPR on the lifeless Josi while his partner drove to the hospital.
“I’m told that if he would have just waited a few more seconds for the ambulance to come in, I could have died,” Josi added.
The experience is something that will remain stuck with him says the officer.
“It’s one of those things that touches your heart and stays with you,” Peter told the Courant. “The firemen did their job, I did my job, the hospital staff did their job. As a result, we still have a beautiful young woman still on the face of the earth.”
Peter continued supporting Josi by visiting her in hospital until she fully recovered, even gifting her with a teddy bear.
The officer continued keeping in touch with the teen throughout the years to follow on her progress until they lost contact when she and her family moved to another town.
“He saved me and he's just walking out with me in his arms,” Josi told WFSB.
“I’m so grateful for him because we always call him my guardian angel.”
The 23-year-old said she felt it was right for her to meet the man that saved her life, and she decided to track him on Facebook.
“Not many people can or are willing to put themselves in danger to save others,” she said. “It's because of people like Peter and all of our police officers and firefighters that I'm alive.”
Since making contact, the two old friends have managed to meet, and when it was time for Josi’s graduation, she said she couldn’t imagine the officer to not share that moment with her, by her side.
“I kind of choked up after her graduation invitation,” he said.
“To see the outcome, to see how successful she's been, makes my heart beat faster."
Josi graduated magna cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State University, and Peter had this to say; “She did really good.”
Sources: dailymail.co.uk, insideedition.com, huffingtonpost.com