Former Cop Reunites With Girl He Saved 18 Years Ago

May 20, 2016 Updated: May 20, 2016

A woman whose life was saved by a police officer in 1998 reunited with him this week.

Josibelk Aponte, who is now 23, was rescued by retired police detective Peter Getz when she was 5 years old. He resuscitated her after taking her out of a burning apartment building in Hartford, Connecticut.

Getz attended her graduation from Eastern Connecticut State University on May 17, the Hartford Courant reported.

“There are only a few moments that are so important in life,” Aponte told the newspaper. “I wanted to share my graduation with everyone who’s important to me, who have been there for me, and who helped me through tough times.”

On that day in 1998, she described it as the “best and worst” moment of her life. Her uncle lost his life in the blaze, the Courant said.

“I almost died, but I was given a second chance at life,” she said. “And it was because of Peter and all the authorities, everyone who came to help that day.”

A dramatic newspaper photo captured Getz carrying Aponte out of a burning building.

Getz said the experience stuck with him.

“It’s one of those things that touches your heart and stays with you,” he said. “It’s a situation that we could control, that we could foresee the outcome of. 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.”

Getz kept the photo.

Aponte tracked him down two years ago on Facebook.

“I followed her progress for years in the school system,” Getz told CNN, adding that his two kids are just a few years older than Aponte. “Just to make sure she was doing well.”

After the stories about Getz and Aponte went viral this week, Getz said he’s received numerous phone calls.

“It’s mind-boggling,” Getz told Inside Edition.