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LITTLE CANADA, Minn. -- A near tragedy last week managed to strengthen the bond between a man and his only grandson.

They've always been close, but never more than now.

Though he grew up near the beaches of Italy, Pino Lipari has never been much of a swimmer.

Last Friday, though, Pino was with his 10-year-old grandson, Nino Johnson, when he slipped into the deep and tried to paddle to the side.

"I was going up and down, up and down. I was drinking water, I was spilling the water."

Nino saw the whole thing.

"At the beginning I thought he was OK, like when he was paddling to the side," Nino says. "Then once he started going under, I started to get like what should I do? … If I went and called 911, by the time I got out here he probably would've been under."

Thinking fast on his feet, Nino jumped in and made the rescue himself.

"He got me from the back," Pino says. "He started pushing me with his leg."

Both say it happened quickly, but Pino says he will spend the rest of his life showing gratitude.

"We so close before that, and now, what I think about him? He's my angel."

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