LITTLE CANADA, Minn. (WCCO/CNN) — A near tragedy last week managed to strengthen the bond between a man and his only grandson.
Pino Lipari and 10-year-old Nino Johnson have always been close, but never more so than now.
Though Lipari grew up near the beaches of Italy, he has never been much of a swimmer.
Last Friday, Lipari was with Johnson when he slipped into the deep-end of the pool and tried to paddle to the edge.
“I tried to go that way. I couldn’t make it. I was close there, (then) decided to come back this side,” he said.
“At the beginning, I thought he was okay, like when he was paddling to the side,” Johnson said. “Then once he started going under, I started to get like what should I do?”
“I was going up and down, up and down. I was drinking water, I was spilling the water,” Lipari said.
“If I went and called 911, by the time I got out here he probably would’ve been under,” Johnson said.
Lipari tried to tell Johnson to grab a nearby pool net and reach it out to him, but in the moment, he was hard to understand.
“He was flopping around, just going under and up. Then he was trying to tell me to grab it,” Johnson said.
“He got me from the back. He started pushing me with his leg,” Lipari said.
“I pushed him over there and then swam over here,” Johnson said.
It all went rather quickly, but Lipari says he will spend the rest of his life showing his gratitude.
“We so close before that, and now, what I think about him? He’s my angel,” he said.