Erin Manning sends along this story of rescuers desperately trying to save the life of a young woman trapped in her car after being hit by a drunk driver. Excerpt:
Reed says Lentz was pinned in between the steering wheel and the seat. After 45 minutes passed, medical workers told rescue crews that Katie was failing and fast. That’s when Reed decided to move the car, which was standing on its side, back on all four wheels.
About an hour into the rescue, Katie asked rescue workers to pray out loud with her. That’s when a priest appeared out of no where.
“He came up and approached the patient, and offered a prayer,” Reed said. “It was a Catholic priest who had anointing oil with him. 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.”
The Hannibal Fire Department showed up right after that prayer with fresh equipment and was able to finish the extrication. After getting Katie safely into the Air Evac helicopter, at least a dozen of the rescue workers turned around to thank the priest who was no where in sight. The highway had been blocked for a quarter of a mile during the hour and a half rescue, leaving no bystanders and no parked cars nearby. Lentz’ family and friends are amazed by the story.
If you watch the video accompanying that story, you see that the wreck happened in the middle of nowhere. Nothing around the site but soybean fields.
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 is 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 collar with visible white insert 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.”
Erin points out that Sunday, the day Katie Lentz was saved from the wreck, was the Feast of St. John Vianney, the Curé d’Ars, who is patron saint of priests.