The highway in New London, Missouri had been closed for a quarter of a mile while rescuers tried to little avail to extract a girl from a car wreck on a Sunday morning. And yet out of nowhere this man shows up in priestly garb just after the driver, who was trapped in this Mercedes for around an hour, said she wanted to pray out loud with the rescue team. The priest said he would pray with her and he did while anointing her with oil – and then disappeared. But before he left he apparently told a couple of the rescuers to remain calm and that their tools would now work to get her out of the vehicle. They mentioned this because the Mercedes was so well built that their cutting tools were being dulled trying to extract her from the vehicle. But then after the priest left, they were able to extract her and get her to the hospital.
The fire chief says that to him it is nothing short of a miracle.
Also read this as it adds more detail to the story:
USA TODAY – The scene unfolded Sunday morning. Katie Lentz, a sophomore at Tulane University, was driving from her parents’ home in Quincy, Ill., to Jefferson City, Mo., where she has a summer internship and planned to attend church with friends. The Mercedes she was driving collided with another vehicle on a highway near Center, Mo. The accident crushed Lentz’s vehicle into a ball of sheet metal that lay on the driver’s side, Reed said.
Reed’s team and emergency workers from several other jurisdictions tried for at least 45 minutes to remove the twisted metal from around Lentz. Various pieces of equipment broke and the team was running out of choices. A helicopter waited to carry Lentz to the nearest trauma center. Though Lentz appeared calm, talking about her church and her studies toward a dentistry degree, her vital signs were beginning to fail, Reed said.
“I was pulled off to the side by one of the members of the” helicopter evacuation team, Reed said. “He expressed to me that we were out of time. Her condition looked grim for her coming out of that vehicle alive. She was facing major problems.”
At that point, Reed’s team agreed to take the life-threatening chance of sitting the vehicle upright so that Lentz could be removed from it. This is dangerous because a sudden change in pressure to the body can be critical, he said.
That’s when Lentz asked if someone would pray with her and a voice said, “I will.”
The silver-haired priest in his 50s or 60s in black pants, black shirt and black collar with visible white insert stepped forward from nowhere. It struck Reed as odd because the street was blocked off 2 miles from the scene and no one from the nearby communities recognized him.
“We’re all local people from four different towns,” Reed said. “We’ve only got one Catholic church out of three towns and it wasn’t their priest.”
Reed and the other emergency workers were on their knees. The priest of about medium build, maybe 6-feet-tall, stood above them.
“This priest approached Katie and began to pray openly with her,” Reed said. “He had a bottle of anointing oil with him and he used that.”
Another firefighter who had been watching said it appeared as if the priest also sprinkled Reed and two other emergency workers nearby with oil.
Everything happened quickly after that. Twenty emergency workers pulled together and sat the car upright, Churchill Lentz said. Katie Lentz’s vital signs improved and a rescue team from a neighboring community suddenly appeared with fresh equipment and tools. Lentz was removed and rushed to the hospital.
With Lentz gone, the rescue team prepared to clean up, Reed said.
“We all go back to thank this priest and he’s gone,” he said.
Initially, they assumed he had to get to his home church to lead Sunday services. But then they looked at their photos of the scene.
“I have 69 photographs that were taken from minutes after that accident happened — bystanders, the extrication, our final cleanup — and he’s not in them,” Reed said. “All we want to do is thank him.”
The Facebook page of Lentz’s mother, Carla Church Lentz, indicates Lentz is on the mend despite suffering two broken femurs, a broken tibia and fibia, broken left wrist, nine broken ribs, a lacerated liver, ruptured spleen and bruised lung.
Churchill Lentz said her daughter has undergone two surgeries at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Ill., and will undergo two more, but has been upgraded from critical to serious and is doing well.
“She sustained a lot of injuries, however, her face is beautiful, her teeth are perfect, she is sunshine, and everyone who’s contacted us — those emergency personnel, the Missouri State Patrol, the deputies, the firemen — they are all saying the same thing, she never cried, she never screamed, she would just say, ‘pray for me and pray out loud.’ “