Mystery priest at accident scene is hailed as an angel

(RNS) Emergency workers and others in eastern Missouri are not sure what to make of a mystery priest who showed up at a critical accident scene Sunday morning (Aug. 4) and whose prayer seemed to change life-threatening events for the positive.

Even odder, the black-garbed priest does not appear in any of the nearly 70 photos of the scene of the accident in which a 19-year-old girl almost died.

No one knows the priest, and he vanished without a word, said Raymond Reed, fire chief of New London, Mo.

“I think it’s a miracle,” Reed said. “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.”

Video courtesy khqatv7 via YouTube

Carla Churchill Lentz, the mother of the teen who was critically injured, said emergency workers have told her there is no way her daughter should have lived inside such a mangled car.

“I do believe he certainly could have been an angel dressed in priest’s attire because the Bible tells us there are angels among us,” she said.

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. 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 can be 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 clergy collar 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 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 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 … they are all saying the same thing, she never cried, she never screamed, she would just say, ‘pray for me and pray out loud.'”

(Melanie Eversley writes for USA Today)

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Melanie Eversley


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  • First, I’m very happy to read this girl has survived and is doing well.
    Just one tough question and few comments, though none intended to be harsh. If God would have cared enough about this girl to send an angel to help her, if there really is a God, and he is good, why wouldn’t God care enough not to have put her through this tragedy in the first place? I’ve heard the responses to difficult questions like this before. Like, “We can’t question Gods will” or “No one knows the mysteries of God”. However, these are just a way to dodge the question, and not face the reality of the answer. Either God is not good, or God doesn’t really exists anywhere but in the human mind. I would highly recommend those who are lead by faith, rather than logic and reason to read their Bible, Koran, or whatever holy text they view as the word of God. Read it not with eyes blinded by faith, but with clarity only self-honesty can bring, and you may finally realize it’s all just a lie. Just like this being anything more than a priest, or someone dressed like a priest, or a fib is being told. The world needs to wake up to the reality that we should be good to one another, just because it is the right thing to do, because it is conducive to everyone’s well being. Live and love. It’s just that simple.
    Good day!

  • Several times in the gospels of the New Testament in the Bible, we read Jesus words that it is by our FAITH that He can do miracles… He is not a magician!

  • God does not spend every moment removing obstacles from our paths. We find ourselves in predicaments through our own or others’ folly. We have free will. If we didn’t, we would never grow. As a parent, I can’t and wouldn’t prevent every mishap my children have, so I can understand that.

  • “Either God is not good, or God doesn’t really exists anywhere but in the human mind.” I don’t think you or anyone else has enough information to break everything down to just these two possibilities.

    “Read it not with eyes blinded by faith, but with clarity only self-honesty can bring, and you may finally realize it’s all just a lie.” You can also read these books for what they claim to be: words, beliefs, viewpoints, and stories of devout, primitive, and imperfect peoples. We may know more than they did back then, but that doesn’t make their books “lies”.

    “The world needs to wake up to the reality that we should be good to one another, just because it is the right thing to do, because it is conducive to everyone’s well being.” Who says it’s the “right thing to do”? Why should we even care whether anything is “conducive to everyone’s well being”? Without God, there can be no right and wrong. Morality would be totally relative.

  • How can you know what God does, and does not? Also, what does a being that always was, and always will be know of time anyway? The only information you have to go by is the written words in the bible, If you read those, he intercedes, but he also kills millions. I can only wonder, if he really views humans as his children, and he has the power to intervene, why wouldn’t he? As a loving parent, you’re telling me you would have allowed your child to go through this terrible car accident in order for her to grow?
    Good Day!

  • JA, in the context of the question I posed, I do believe I can break it down to those options.
    These books claim to be the written, or at least inspired word of God. So, unless you can believe in unicorns, sea monsters, the possibility that anyone can see the entire world from the top of even the highest mountain in the world, or even in flying carpets, which I can’t, they contain lies.
    Please tell me you’re not so void of self morality that without the threat of eternal damnation or the promise of paradise, you would kill main and rape. Even lower species of animals all get along for their collective good. I would seriously take a look at who I am if I thought that. I don’t believe in a God, but I love my family, help my fellow man and live my life in a manner that I would like everyone else to live in. Kind of like the ‘do unto others mentality.
    Good day!

  • Actually, no. If I can prevent my child having an accident, I will. I have, however, allowed them to reap what they sow. I have instructed them in what I believe is the right way to go, but they have free will. We will all have bad things happen, deserved or not. We can choose to learn from them or we can shake our fists at God or even deny he exists. But blaming Him only blocks what we might have learned. In no way am I saying this girl deserved to have that accident, mind you. But she did experience a miracle first hand, which will bring her even closer to God. As human beings, we have a tendency to see things from a physical perspective. You may see death as an end. But death is, in reality, the beginning of life in God’s presence.

  • I’ve met many angels in my lifetime who appeared as “ordinary” human beings and also disappeared! Don’t ever let go of the Lord’s hand!

  • You poor pathetic soul. Obviously you are uncomfortable in you lack of belief and are looking for backup.
    You talk about being good to one another?
    Heed your own advice, you may need that angel one day.

  • Well stated babegrif. In addition, it occurs to me that this is an incident in which God intervenes to show us his mercy and love. It serves to built our faith and perhaps let unbelievers see it too.

  • Hi Erald, in answer to your question: “why wouldn’t God care enough not to have put her through this tragedy in the first place? I’ve heard the responses to difficult questions like this before. Like, “We can’t question Gods will” or “No one knows the mysteries of God”. However, these are just a way to dodge the question, and not face the reality of the answer.”

    Your question is hobbled because it doesn’t really allow room for our God-given free will. You apparently feel God either should have made everything perfectly painless or He can’t possibly exist. Christ told us to take responsibility for the fact that free will always carry consequences, and poorly choices will not be liberating. The drunk driver who hit the girl was exercising the free will God gave us, and the girl, exercising her free will, chose to pray aloud and ask for others to pray aloud. The priest also made a choice. What is Erald choosing?

  • Rosemary, what may seem obvious to some is only so because of the lens they view everything through. I am not uncomfortable in my lack of belief, I’m uncomfortable in a world that has been controlled by people, who believe in something that doesn’t exist, who make laws that affect everyone’s lives based on those beliefs. I seek to change that by speaking out against the things that perpetuate those myths, like this article which takes an act of true humanity, and tries to twist it into something supernatural. It may be that the writer feels the majority of the readers would not comprehend someone acting kind without the supernatural element behind it? Although many, maybe like you, have a hard time understanding, we really don’t need to believe in a sky God with a carrot and a stick in order to be good to each other. Maybe those who are uncomfortable in their own ability to act in a caring manner to everyone else without the reward of punishment are the ones who feel uncomfortable? If we would just be good to one another, maybe we would view each other as “angels”, which would no longer need to take on a supernatural connotation to be able to understand, but rather a natural one; one that hopefully would be more commonplace than the supposed “miracles’ that this story seeks to perpetuate.
    Good day!

  • You have the right to your own opinion and I have the right to mine! I have two questions for you: who gave you life and who created this world?? I think you need to read the Bible and realize all that God has done for everyone in this world. We cannot be truly good without God!! He is real goodness!!

  • First, Praise God for this young girls life and the unexplained circumstances that may have saved her from death. Second, I’m glad to hear you, Mr. Gunter, have chosen to be good and do good. I wish more would do so. Others have chosen to be bad and do harm. We have a choice…free will. This is a fallen world and “in this world, there will be trouble”, as the Lord said. ALL will be for His eternal glory and my guess is that a lot more have come to know The Lord and glorify Him through difficult times and tragedies than those who have gone through life unscathed. God DOES have an eternal plan of bliss, free of pain, tears, and tragedy, but it awaits those who have the FAITH to believe in the very real Jesus that walked on this Earth…and it will be eternal. I would suggest, humbly, that it takes more faith to believe in nothing that it does to believe in the God of the Bible. I would also suggest, respectfully, that to think we, as humans, are wise enough to understand the unseen, the metaphysical, and the spiritual, is giving us far too much credit. I will pray to my God, the God of the Bible, for your eternal salvation. Good day to you as well….and God bless. May we all meet this “priest” in our time of need.