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HARTFORD, Conn. – A retired police officer attended the college graduation ceremony of a girl whose life he saved 18 years ago.

Retired Detective Peter Getz was one of the many who responded to a fire in 1998.

Five-year-old Josi Aponte was trapped inside the building at the time. The fire killed her cousin and almost killed her too. Getz came to her rescue. A photo from that day shows Getz carrying Aponte out of the burning building. She was covered in ash.

“There are certain events that change your life forever,” Getz told WFSB.

In 2014, Aponte found Getz on social media. The two reconnected, and met over lunch whenever they had time.

“He saved me and he’s just walking out with me in his arms and I’m so grateful for him because we always call him my guardian angel,” Aponte said.

On Saturday, Getz attended Aponte’s graduation from Eastern Connecticut State University.

Getz attended the ceremony with the Aponte family.

“He was just there and that’s all that matters,” said Aponte.

Watch the heartwarming story below.