Did an "angel" priest visit a car crash site in Missouri on Sunday and through the power of prayer alter the life-threatening events for the positive before disappearing into a nearby field?
That is the question on the minds of emergency workers and community members who cannot explain how a priest arrived on the scene and where he went after finishing a prayer, considering the accident occurred on a rural road that had been blocked a quarter of a mile in each direction and there were no parked cars nearby.
The crash occurred shortly after 9 a.m. Sunday along Missouri Route 19 near Center, Mo., KHQA reported.
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According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, 26-year-old Aaron Smith crossed the center line and struck 19-year-old Katie Lentz head-on, trapping her in the crushed vehicle for the next hour and a half as rescue crews attempted to extricate her.
In an interview with KHQA, New London Fire Chief Raymond Reed said rescue crews spent the first 45 minutes of the extrication attempting to cut Lentz out of her Mercedez Benz without success.
"It was a very well-built car, and when you compact materials like that one, they become even stronger because you're cutting through multiple things instead of one layer," Reed told KHQA.
Medical workers at the scene then told Reed that Lentz, who was pinned between the steering wheel and the seat, appeared to be failing fast, prompting the fire chief to move the car into another position before proceeding further with the rescue effort.
Now an hour into the rescue, which remained unsuccessful, Reed said that Lentz asked if she could pray aloud, at which time a priest appeared out of nowhere and approached the car.
"He came up and approached the patient, and offered a prayer," Reed told KHQA. "It was a Catholic priest who had anointing oil with him. A sense of calmness came over her, and it did us as well."
Reed then recalled hearing a voice that reassured him of his effort to free the girl from the crushed vehicle.
"I can't be for certain how it was said, but myself and another firefighter, we very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work and that we would get her out of that vehicle," Reed said.
Moments after the priest concluded his blessing over the car, the Hannibal Fire Department arrived on the scene and with fresh equipment were able to remove Lentz from the vehicle, KHQA reported.
The entire extrication took 90 minutes.
Lentz was subsequently airlifted to an area hospital where she has been upgraded to serious condition, her mother told KHQA. She has multiple broken bones, internal injuries, and serious damage to her legs.
Smith was charged with DWI.
After putting Lentz on the Air Evac helicopter, more than a dozen of the rescue workers at the scene who witnessed the priest then turned to thank him for his blessing, but he was nowhere to be found.
Reed was unable to explain where the priest, who appeared out of nowhere, went, being that the road was blocked by police for a quarter of a mile in either direction and there were no cars in the vicinity of the crash site, which was surrounded by fields.
"We would like to find this gentleman and be able to thank him," Reed said. "As a first responder, you don't know what you're going to run into. We have a lot of tools, and we have intensive training. In this particular case, it is my feeling that it was nothing more than sheer faith and nothing short of a miracle."
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