Officers in Center, Missouri, are searching for a priest whom they want to thank for helping them rescue an accident victim. They claim the priest appeared out of nowhere at just the right time and helped them free a trapped victim from the wreckage before disappearing.
A man crossed the center line and struck 19-year-old Katie Lentz head-on, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. She was pinned between the steering wheel and her seat; rescue workers realized that they had a problem when they were unable to remove Lentz from the wreckage after 45 minutes. The metal on Lentz's car dulled the rescue equipment, making the job all that much harder.
After an hour, officials told the police that Lentz was fading fast and that something had to be done immediately or they could risk losing her. Lentz asked her rescuers to stop working and pray out loud with her.
That is when police say that the "angel priest" appeared.
"He came up and approached the patient and offered a prayer," New London Fire Chief Raymond Reed told KHQA News. "It was a Catholic priest who had anointing oil with him. A sense of calmness came over her, and it did us as well. 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."
Once the prayer was finished, the first-responders were joined by the Hannibal Fire Department, which had new equipment. They were able to remove Lentz from the wreckage and get her into an Air Evac helicopter to safety. However, once the rescue was complete, officials looked for the priest to thank him, but he was nowhere in sight. Compounding the mystery of his appearance was the fact that the road had been blocked off for a quarter of a mile for at least an hour and a half.
"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."
Lentz is expected to survive, though her legs were severely damaged in the accident and she has several internal injuries.
"All along the way, her foremost request is for people to pray and to pray out loud," her mother said. "We would like nothing more than to carry that message forward for her."