Sometimes life provides opportunities for true friendship and deep connection with others in the strangest and most unexpected ways. Unbeknownst to this hardworking cop, one particular call would give him just that opportunity.
Hartford, Connecticut policeman Peter Getz didn’t expect that his life would change forever when he answered the call to rush to an unrelenting apartment fire on Washington Street. But change it did, and Getz is so grateful for it.
After bravely facing the flames and smoke of the fire to save a little girl’s life, he was rewarded not with medals or recognition, but something much more meaningful.
An Unexpected Call
Peter Getz was a dedicated officer devoted to doing the best job he could. When he got the call over his radio to go to a dangerous fire on Washington Ave in Hartford, he wasted no time going straight over to help. Good thing he did because it was almost too late.
A Helping Hand
Officer Getz rushed immediately to the building and inside the apartments, finding a firefighter pulling a young girl out of the flames. She was covered in ash and unresponsive. He quickly placed the girl in Officer Getz’s arms and continued fighting the fire while Getz rushed out of the building.
When It All Went Black
Once outside, he went as quickly as possible to get help for the unresponsive girl in his arms. The five-year-old girl, Josibelk Aponte, was at home with her uncle, Jofrey, when the fire started. All that Aponte remembers is the room filling up with thick smoke and then she passed out.
A Life In His Hands
Though Getz tried finding help for Aponte, medical personnel had not reached the apartments yet. Her tiny life was in his hands completely. He wasted no time in having his partner drive them to Hartford Hospital. While on the road, Getz performed CPR. His efforts made a difference for little Aponte and she was revived.
Handing Her Off
Thankfully, Officer Getz kept her alive until they reached the hospital and there he handed her off to the hospital staff. Once there, she recovered fully from the fire. It is all thanks to Getz’s quick reflexes at that critical time and efforts in reviving her that she is alive today.
Grieving Her Loss
Unfortunately, Aponte’s uncle Jofrey did not survive the fire. He was transferred to Hartford Hospital as well but passed away a few days after the fire due to the severe injuries he acquired. Of course, everyone, including Officer Getz was heartbroken. Through this time, Getz felt a strong connection with Aponte, though he never actually spoke with her.
Supporting Her From Afar
Getz and his team felt like they needed to do everything they could to support Aponte and her family during this terrible time. They organized and held a fundraiser to help send her uncle’s body to Venezuela to be with his family and helped spread the word to encourage others to donate furniture and other things to replace what they lost.
Officer Getz was able to give Aponte a little teddy bear. Though it was a small gift, the little girl kept the special bear and as she grew up kept it close. She still cherishes that little teddy bear and sees the significant gesture behind the small gift she was given so long ago.
A Long Lost Connection
As the years passed, Getz thought regularly about the girl he saved and wondered if Aponte would ever be interested in meeting him to catch up. Coincidentally, Aponte also began to feel curious about the events that took place when she was young and decided to go searching for the facts.
Facebook To The Rescue
Aponte used Google to find old news articles about the fire and found the name of the man who saved her life. She turned to Facebook to help her find him and was able to reconnect with her savior. They began meeting regularly to talk about life and found they were kindred spirits.
Getz became an important part of Aponte’s life. So much so, that Aponte invited Getz to join her family at her graduation from Eastern Connecticut State University in May 2016. “To see the outcome, to see how successful she’s been, makes my heart beat faster,” explains Officer Getz.
The two continue to keep in touch and maintain their closeness. Aponte is deeply grateful for Getz’s heart for helping others saying, “Not many people can or are willing to put themselves in danger to save others. It’s because of people like Peter and all our police officers and firefighters that I’m still alive.”
Sometimes life gives us lemons. Throughout the hard times though it is important to see that often the valleys are just opportunities to create something meaningful in life.
For Officer Getz and Josibelk Aponte, it meant developing a friendship that would last a lifetime. The two met in the worst of circumstances, but thanks to Officer Getz, he gave Aponte a second chance at life. Though they lost connection for many years, the significance of their meeting remained.
Aponte followed her heart and pursued her past. Instead of finding lemons, she found an amazing friend and mentor in Getz.
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