CENTER, Mo. — Rescue and emergency workers are praising a priest who they say mysteriously appeared at the scene of a serious traffic accident last Sunday and helped save a woman's life.
Those on scene said not only did the priest seem to show up from nowhere, but he does not appear in any of the nearly 70 photos of the scene of the accident in which a young woman almost died.
USA Today reports a Tulane University sophomore, Katie Lentz, 19, was driving from Illinois to Missouri for church services when her Mercedes collided with another vehicle. The wreck flipped her car on its side and trapped her in the crushed metal.
After trying to rescue her for 45 minutes, crews decided to flip the car, which they feared could further threaten her life.
Lentz asked for someone to pray for her and a silver-haired man dressed in black pants, black shirt and black collar with a priest's white insert said, "I will."
"Whether it was an angel that was sent to us in the form of a priest or a priest that became our angel, I don't know. Either way, I'm good with it."
Raymond Reed, fire chief of New London, Mo., told USA Today it was odd to see the unknown priest at the crash site.
"We're all local people from four different towns. We've only got one Catholic church out of three towns, and it wasn't their priest," he told the paper.
Sheriff's deputy Richard Adair told KHQA he feared the priest would send the wrong message to Lentz. He said he told the priest they were worried Lentz would think they'd given up hope.
"He said, 'I just want to anoint her,' and so we just let him come up to the scene,' " Adair told KHQA.
The priest prayed and dropped anointing oil onto Lentz, whose vital signs improved. Additional equipment arrived, allowing crews to flip the car and rescue Lentz. She was flown to a hospital.
Rescuers said the priest remained on scene for several minutes, but when they went to thank him, he was gone.
Reed called it a miracle.
"I would say whether it was an angel that was sent to us in the form of a priest or a priest that became our angel, I don't know. Either way, I'm good with it," he told USA Today.
Lentz's mother reported on Facebook that her daughter underwent two surgeries but is expected to make a full recovery.
The Diocese of Jefferson City hasn't located the priest and according to KHQA said, "Out of respect for the privacy of any priest who may have been involved and does not wish to come forward, the Diocese does not plan to further investigate this incident."