Eighteen years after saving a little girl who nearly died in an apartment fire, retired Connecticut Det. Peter Getz watched proudly as the girl, now all grown up, walked on stage Tuesday to accept her college diploma.
“To see the outcome, to see how successful she’s been, makes my heart beat faster,” Getz told the Hartford Courant, which reported the heartfelt story Wednesday.
Aponte and Getz reconnected two years ago after the 23-year-old accounting major said she felt nostalgic and decided to Google news coverage of the fire that nearly claimed her life on June 25, 1998.
Firefighters battling the blaze pulled an unresponsive Aponte from the building and tossed her into Getz’s arms.
He told the Courant his training kicked in and he did what he had to do.
The retired detective, who was a patrolman at the time of the fire, squeezed into the back seat of a patrol vehicle and performed CPR as another officer drove to the hospital.
By they time they arrived at the hospital, the little girl was breathing.
“I’m one cog in that wheel, from the dispatchers, to the firefighters who risked their lives to go in and bring her out,” Getz told the Courant. “We all did what [we were]trained to do that day; it’s not just about me. That’s how this process is supposed to work, that’s why we wear [the]uniforms we wear.”
Getz told the Courant he kept tabs on Aponte, but was uncertain he should reach out. When Aponte tracked down Getz on Facebook, they started regularly meeting.
Aponte invited him to her graduation because she said she wanted those who played a role in helping her become successful to witness the momentous occasion.
“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.”