Update: "Angel" Identified
FIREFIGHTERS AND TROOPERS IN MISSOURI, were awed when a "mystery man" showed up at a head-on crash along a rural road in the northeast corner of the state.
ABC News later reported:
An unidentified allegedly drunken driver hit Katie Lentz, of Quincy, Mo., head on Aug. 4 while traveling on Route 19 near Center, Mo., pinning the 19-year-old in the front seat of her convertible. With her vital signs failing fast, she asked rescue crews to pray with her.
That's when first responders say a man who looked like a Catholic priest seemed to appear out of nowhere, despite a 2-mile perimeter blocking the scene. "He began to pray and use the anointing oil," New London Fire Chief Raymond Reed said. "There was a calmness that, to me, seemed to come over the entire scene."
But that's not the only seemingly divine detail. Firefighters say their equipment kept failing until the mystery man showed up. "The words were to remain calm, that our tools would now work," Reed said. "Instantaneously, at that moment, our neighboring department arrived with fresh extrication tools."
Lentz survived, but the man vanished before crews could thank him.
The young woman is recovering in the hospital with broken legs and ribs, but some say it could've been worse, if not for the mystery man on the highway.
CNN was one of several news networks that covered the unusual story:
The spectre was immediately dubbed The Guardian Angel and people began inquiring who, or what, appeared out of nowhere to save the day, so to speak.
Inquiries went out and a sketch artist was brought in to draw an identa-sketch from the witnesses descriptions:
The mystery was resolved Monday when the local Catholic parish disclosed the priest's identity as Father Patrick Dowling, who was unaware of the "battlefield promotion" to angel.
KHQA-TV, which has been the lead news agency for the story, posted last night:
Father Dowling says he was returning to mid-Missouri following a Mass in Ewing, Missouri because the regular priest was sick on the morning of Sunday, August 4. That's when he approached the accident scene on Missouri 19. He said he was already inside the blockade before authorities started blocking traffic. He waited until it was possible to drive up closer. He ended up parking behind a large vehicle about 150 yards from the scene, walked up to a member of the Ralls County Sheriff's Department and asked if he could approach the scene. Father Dowling says he never plans to drive away from an emergency, road block or no road block.
Rescue crews took about 80 photos of the crash scene as crews were trying to rescue 19-year-old Katie Lentz. Father Dowling, also known as the mysterious priest, appeared in none of them. He said he doesn't have an explanation for that.
The priest does not want credit for the rescue. He said a higher power deserves that credit along with the hard work and diligence of the rescue workers on the scene that morning. He described them as working harmoniously together like a Swiss watch.
New London Volunteer Fire Chief says he has mixed emotions about Father Dowling stepping forward.
"My initial reaction was two-fold," Reed said. "One side of me was ecstatic that I'm now going to be able to physically meet this individual. The other side of me — a lot of people touched by this story were grasping onto the thought that this mysterious priest was placed there by God in a form that they had their interpretation of. He was my angel either way, and I'm gonna still stick to that."
The Diocese of Jefferson City's communications director said that when Dowling read news reports about the family and rescue crews wishing to know who the priest was, he wanted them to know.
KHQA-TV recorded their interview with Fr. Dowling Monday evening:
Read KHQA's complete report HERE.
Thanks to Mark D.
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