A traffic accident and subsequent rescue mission in Missouri is getting international attention this week, not because the emergency crew was successful in saving a woman's life -- but because a mysterious priest allegedly appeared seemingly out of nowhere to calmly offer a prayer.
And then he disappeared.
The New London Fire Department is calling it the "Highway 19 Miracle."
The case of this "mysterious priest" is already going viral, with USA Today referencing the appearance of an "angel" and the Daily Mail referring to the "riddle of the angel priest." "God's Country?" says the New York Daily News.
So what happened exactly?
KHQA, the local station that first reported the incident, says that nineteen-year-old Katie Lentz, of Quincy, was trapped in her crushed car on Highway 19 near Center, which is about two hours north of St. Louis.
A driver had apparently crossed the center line and struck Lentz head-on.
The online report with the Missouri Highway Patrol says that Aaron Smith, a 26-year-old from Hannibal, was arrested at 9:42 a.m. and faces charges of felony second-degree assault, DWI and failure to drive on the right half of the roadway. The report says he was taken to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Lentz was reportedly trapped in her car for quite a long time as volunteer firefighters struggled to get her out.
After about one hour, Lentz apparently asked that the rescue workers pray out loud with her.
That's when, rescuers say, a priest appeared.
Here's footage from the station:
Raymond Reed, chief of the volunteer New London fire department, told the station, "He came up and approached the patient and did offer a prayer. It was a Catholic priest. He had anointing oil with him and a sense of calmness come over her then...and it did us as well.... I can't be for certain what who said or how it was said or where it come from, but myself and one of the firefighters that was beside me, 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."
Daily RFT left a message with Reed yesterday, and we'll update if we get a chance to speak with him directly.
Soon after, the Hannibal Fire Department reportedly showed up and successfully rescued the woman. When rescuers went to thank the priest he was gone, they report.
The road had also been closed off during the rescue, officials say.
Here are some posts from the New London Fire Department's Facebook page about the "Highway 19 miracle":
Meanwhile, the woman is apparently recovering from the very serious injuries. From an update her mother posted on Facebbok, which the fire department shared:
Very pleased that Katie's near tragic accident provides proof to all that miracles still happen....
Katie's surgery was successful today after a 6 1/2 hour surgery. Many are asking about her injuries. Here is a non comprehensive list: Broken left femur Broken right femur Broken right tibia Broken right fibia Broken left wrist 9 broken ribs (8 on one side) Lacerated liver Ruptured spleen Bruised lung Numerous smaller lacerations.
Thankfully, her face and teeth escaped injury.
Please continue to pray for her and in Katie's words, Pray Out Loud!!!! Bless you for loving our family and supporting us in prayer.