Rescue workers and community members from a small town in Missouri are puzzled over the appearance of a priest at an auto accident scene where he prayed with the teenage victim, anointed her with oil and then vanished.
Shortly after she was cut loose despite it proving impossible before he arrived.
He is being called an “angel” priest who performed a miracle and who appeared out of nowhere and then disappeared. He is in none of the 80 photographs taken at the accident scene.
Firefighters report that he also splashed holy oil on them as they battled to free 19-year-old Katie Lentz from her car near the town of Center on Missouri 19.
New London Fire Chief Raymond Reed, one of the rescuers at the scene of the accident a week ago, told KHQA: “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.”
"I think that this time I've actually witnessed a guardian angel at work," Jeremiah See of the New London Fire Department told ABC News.
Katie’s mother, Carla Churchill Lentz, told USA Today that emergency workers said there is no way her daughter should have lived through the crash.
She believes the man may have been “an angel dressed in priest’s attire because the Bible tells us there are angels among us.”
"Where did this guy come from?" Lentz's friend Travis Wiseman asked, according to KHQA. "We're looking for the priest and so far, no one has seen him. Whether it was a priest as an angel or an actual angel, he was an angel to all those and to Katie."
Katie was pinned beneath the steering wheel of her car after collision with another vehicle which witnesses report crossed the centre lane and collided head-on with her.
Authorities spent about 45 minutes trying to cut her out of the car, but the metal on her older car dulled the equipment.
She then asked rescuers to pray with her – and that’s when the “angel priest” appeared although the highway was blocked for two to three miles and emergency responders were not letting anyone past the roadblocks.
Rescuers said he was grey-haired, dressed in all black with a clerical collar and carrying anointing oil.
Fox4KC reports that Tucson-based artist Randall Sands has created a sketch of the priest hoping he may be identified.
Deacon Dean Joyce, of the Diocese of Jefferson City, 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.”
A spokesperson from Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Ill., told HuffPost that Katie is currently listed in serious condition.
“The fire chief, Raymond Reed, had stepped back and came up to me and said he was concerned because he was out of options. His tools weren’t working and by that time, it was almost an hour and said I don’t know how we’re going to get her out,” Ralls County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Adair told KHQA.
He came and he asked to anoint the girl in the car,” Adair said. “My first thought was that it would possibly send the wrong message to Katie that maybe we had called a priest and thought she wasn’t going to make it. So I went back and talked to the priest and told him we were worried she would think we’d given up hope. He said, ‘I just want to anoint her’ and so we just let him come up to the scene.”