19-year-old, Katie Lentz, was pinned between the steering wheel and the seat after, 26-year-old Aaron Smith, crossed the center line and hit her car head on Sunday morning, causing a horrific scene.
New London Fire Chief, Raymond Reed, said rescue crews had been struggling to get Lentz out of her car for nearly an hour when the mysterious priest arrived. “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.”
After the priest prayed with Lentz, Fire Chief Reed said, “A sense of calmness came over her, and it did us as well. I can’t be for certain how it was said, but myself and another firefighter, we very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work and that we would get her out of that vehicle.”
Minutes later, the Hannibal Fire Department arrived with more equipment, and the rescuers were able to free Lentz from the car in time to get her onto an Air Evac helicopter and to a hospital. By that point, the priest had disappeared, and no one knew who he was or where to find him to thank him. The road was blocked for several miles on either side of the crash seen, and no one was allowed through the road blocks. How did the priest get to the scene? Of the 80 photos taken at the scene by the fire department, the priest appears in none.
“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.”
“We would like to find this gentleman and be able to thank him,” Reed said. “As a first responder, you don’t know what you’re going to run into. We have a lot of tools, and we have intensive training. In this particular case, it is my feeling that it was nothing more than sheer faith and nothing short of a miracle.”
Wanda Burr-White, a witness of the crash, says she remembers the priest very well. “He was dark complected,” she said. “He had an accent, but I’m not sure what nationality. He was probably 5 feet 6 inches maybe. He was not heavy set, but he probably weighed close to 200 pounds. He had dark hair.”
Lentz has undergone surgeries to repair several broken bones, and she is scheduled for more surgeries in the weeks to come. “Both of her legs are very damaged,” Lentz’s friend Amanda Wiseman said. “Her wrist is broken, several broken ribs, so she’s had a lot of broken bones to deal with.” Her condition has been upgraded to serious, according to Lentz’s mother. “All along the way, her foremost request is for people to pray and to pray out loud,” she said. “We would like nothing more than to carry that message forward for her.”
The other driver, Aaron Smith, has been charged with a DWI, second degree assault, and failure to drive on the right half of the roadway.