- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2013

Photos of the nearly fatal wreck won’t show him, but rescuers and emergency workers swear: A man dressed in priest garb did show at the scene of a recent roadway accident and administer aid and prayer that seemed to save the 19-year-old victim’s life.

Katie Lentz, a Tulane University sophomore, was driving from Quincy, Ill., to Jefferson City. Mo., for Sunday church services when her Mercedes collided with another vehicle. The wreck flipped her car on its side and trapped Ms. Lentz in the crushed metal. Rescue workers spent 45 minutes trying to peel back the twisted metal from her body, USA Today reported.

Meanwhile, the woman’s vital signs continued to fall. Rescue workers determined that it would be better to flip the car back onto its tires — a risky procedure that could dramatically change the pressure on her body and leave her fighting for breath, USA Today said.

So she asked for someone to pray for her first. And out of nowhere, a priest appeared and said: “I will.”

The unknown silver-haired man was dressed in black pants, black shirt and black collar with the priestly white insert. One emergency responder, Raymond Reed, the fire chief of New London, Mo., noted the oddity of his presence in the remote area.

“We’re all local people from four different towns,” Mr. Reed said in the USA Today report. “We’ve only got one Catholic church out of three towns, and it wasn’t their priest.”

But the priest walked over to Ms. Lentz and started to pray, dropping anointing oil onto her body.

Suddenly, the rescue moved quickly, USA Today reported. Responders immediately turned the upright, safely removed Ms. Lentz, and watched as her vital signs rapidly improved. She was transported to the hospital — and rescue workers turned to thank the priest, but he was gone.

Moreover, none of the 69 accident photographs taken at the scene recorded his presence, USA Today reported.

“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,” said Mr. Reed, in USA Today. “All we want to do is thank him. … We all go back to thank this priest, and he’s gone.”

Ms. Lentz’s mother, meanwhile, reported on Facebook that her daughter underwent two surgeries at an Illinois hospital and has broken bones, but she is doing well and expected to make a full recovery.

“I think it’s a miracle,” Mr. Reed said, in USA Today. “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.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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