The face of mysterious priest at car wreck

UPDATE (Aug. 12, 2013):

The priest has come forward! He is Fr. Patrick Dowling of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri. (See my post here.)

priest1Last Sunday morning, August 4, 2013, on a lonely open stretch of Missouri highway, 19-year-old Katie Lentz was struck head-on by a drunk driver, 26-year-old Aaron Smith.

Emergency workers struggled for an hour and a half to free Lentz, pinned inside her mangled Mercedes, but to no avail. Medical workers told rescue crews that Lentz was failing and fast.

priest2That’s when Lentz asked if someone would pray with her and a voice said, “I will.”

A silver-haired priest in his 50s or 60s, wearing the priestly garb of black pants, black shirt and black collar with visible white insert, stepped forward from nowhere. As recounted by New London Fire Chief Raymond Reed to KHQA-TV:

“He came up and approached the patient, and offered a prayer. 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.”

Right after the prayer, the Hannibal Fire Department showed up with heavy equipment to cut through the metal. Lentz was extricated from the wreckage and into an Air Evac helicopter. At least a dozen of the rescue workers turned around to thank the priest, but he 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. (See Steve’s post on this, here.)

priest3Adding to this mystery is the curious fact that the priest doesn’t appear in the 70 photos taken at the scene!

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have an idea what he looks like, because there are eye witnesses who have described the priest to KHQA.

One of them is Wanda Burr-White, who was at the crash site and with her husband had held Lentz’s head while rescue workers were trying to extricate her from the car. She remembers the priest well: “He was dark complected. He had an accent, but I’m not sure what nationality. He was probably 5’6″ maybe.” Other eyewitness accounts described the priest as medium built, about 6′ tall.

Based on what witnesses saw and later described, Randall Sands used the FACES software from IQ Biometrix to make this composite sketch of the face of the mysterious priest:

priestThen I read FOTM’s joandarc’s comment on Steve’s post about the mysterious priest. This is what she wrote:

“Last Sunday, August 4th, was the Feast Day of St. John Vianney, who happens to be the patron saint of Catholic Priests worldwide. He lived from 1786 to 1859. Pursuant to Saint of the Day edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M., “Situations calling for impossible deeds followed him everywhere…” He established “La Providence,” a home for girls and he was a remarkable Confessor, spending eleven to twelve hours daily reconciling people with God, and in the summer months, he spent sixteen hours a day in this capacity. Perhaps it was St. John Vianney who helped Katie Lentz and the rescuers in this impossible situation. Remember, the Church Triumphant, the angels and the saints, are with us!”

Here are two representations of St. John Vianney — a statue and a portrait:

st-john-vianneyNow let’s compare St. John Vianney with the composite sketch of the mysterious priest:

St John VianneySame high forehead, horizontal eyebrows, the two vertical frown lines between eyebrows, straight nose, thin upper lip, and cleft chin!

Fire chief Reed said: “We’re all local people from four different towns. We’ve only got one Catholic church out of three towns and it wasn’t their priest. I think it’s a miracle. 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.”

Katie Lentz’s mom, Carla Churchill Lentz, said emergency workers have told her there is no way her daughter should have lived inside such a mangled car. Of the priest, she said, “I do believe he certainly could have been an angel dressed in priest’s attire because the Bible tells us there are angels among us.”

To quote FOTM’s joandarc:

Remember, the Church Triumphant, the angels and the saints, are with us!”

Praise God!!!

UPDATE (Aug. 10, 2013):

The number of photos taken at the crash scene is now increased to 80. Fox News reports that “Fire Chief Reed said the department took 80 photos of the scene and the priest did not appear in any of them. [...] The Diocese of Jefferson City says it has not located the priest involved. ‘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. The Diocese is grateful that a priest was able to exercise his ministry in this manner and requests prayers for healing of the victim, as well as prayers of thanks.’”

Katie Lentz Lentz remains at Blessing Hospital, where she was treated for multiple fractures and serious internal injuries. Please pray for her recovery. Thank you.


68 responses to “The face of mysterious priest at car wreck

  1. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this most incredible and heaven-sent post. If you compare the composite picture of the mystery priest and the picture of St. John Vianney, they are one and the same person. I challenge anyone with any other interpretation. Yes, the saints and angels are with us! PRAISE GOD!

  2. So many chills I had to put on a sweater. Thank you for refilling my well of hope.

  3. From some of the witness accounts I read, each person who saw him described him a bit differently. Obviously, the witnesses observed a miracle.

  4. Why would saints go bald after deceasing?

  5. His name is Hope.

  6. That is extremely cool! A real glory to God moment! :D

  7. OK, this works for me. WOW!

  8. Sounds like an angel made an appearance. They’re becoming more open as we approach the end of the age.

  9. it looks like Fr Maximillan Kolbe

  10. The number of photos taken at the crash scene is now increased to 80, in none of which is an image of the priest. Please scroll up to the bottom of my post for update.

  11. Pingback: Saturday Shorts – 8-10-13 | Designs on the Truth

  12. The Priest may have been someone with the gift of bilocation. We don’t really need to know who he was. I am just grateful that Miss Lentz had the great grace of receiving his attention when she most needed it. Thank God she survived the accident, and of course we are praying for her good and speedy recovery.

  13. The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. That’s faith……………………………..our faith in God founded on the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross at Calvary. Go way back to the Father of our Faith Brother Abraham, who took communion with Melchizadek the Priest and King whose Order we belong to.

  14. It happened on the feast day of St. John Vianney…the patron of priests. Nowadays priests are turned away disasters (boston bombing and even from visiting patients at hospitals as was my bishop at a local childrens hospital)
    What a way for the patron of priests to show the need and spiritual gifts a Holy Man of God can offer. Praise God.

  15. Love this.

  16. If you look at the left pic of St. John Vianney, he has the same two curved vertical lines at the inside of his eyebrows as the composite sketch.

    This is a great story!

  17. I will not speculate as this was God’s messenger who was dispatched to help Katie and as visual witness to the world..PERIOD. God knows what He is doing! Praise
    Him now and forever in Jesus Holy Name Amen!

  18. anonomyous pleas

    It is an sant but not vianney :-) get ahold of fr.tim at st.Gabriel church in st.Louis mo on Nottingham st. u will b verry suprised:-)

  19. I was thinking maybe it is a holy priest, living now, sent by God in a miraculous way known only to God and the priest. Or maybe a priest who was sent by God from Purgatory now making up for sins of omission. This miraculous event is sending a message to the whole world. No words are necessary or needed to describe the value of a holy priest and his holy mission on this earth. This blessed encounter speaks volumes. You are so awesome Almighty Father. You can do all things. You are everywhere, all-present to everyone. You are so beyond us and so human at the same time. Praise, adoration and thanksgiving to You Merciful Father.

  20. Pingback: The face of mysterious priest at car wreck | Knights of Divine Mercy

  21. I think it was St. Maximillian Kolbe. Feast Day is August 14th, the day he died but around August 3rd he volunteered to take the place of a man in the starvation bunker at Aushwitz. He’s the patron saint of prisoners, (people imprisoned in cars?)

  22. The USA and the whole world need a miracle to extricate us from all the evils that are threatening us… corrupt government and members of the ‘religion of peace and tolerance ‘who want to destroy us. We need a miracle!!!

  23. I found this article most interesting.

  24. It could just as well be a likeness of Blessed F. X. Seelos, CSsR, who preached parish missions all over the country, including Missouri, in the 1800s. See the photo with his bio at

  25. This is a catholic priest from Columbia, MO whose car was backed up in traffic so he decided to go pray for the girl. He then asked the Ralls County Sheriffs dept to keep his name anonymous. He then went back to his car, he did give his name to the sheriffs dept but they are not releasing it at his request. There is no mystery here.

  26. believing isn't always seeing

    I truly believe this was a miracle and I thank God for the young woman’s rescue. However I have doubts about the composite. Compare the face in the sketch to Fire Chief Raymond Reed. You can see Chief Reed in the last picture in this article:

  27. Then why isn’t he in the photographs????

    • Rebecca,

      You made a simply brilliant point. If the mysterious priest indeed is a priest in a diocese as a couple of commenters here have claimed, then why isn’t his visage in any of the 80 photos taken at the scene?

  28. Myra V. Balandra

    I truly believe it was a miracle! No doubt it was St John Vianney whose feast we celebrated that day, Aug 4th. The miracle was God’s gift to Katie thru St John Vianney on his feastday. Katie must have done something good or has a special mission to do after her recovery. We had our family miracle that day as we celebrated the 7th anniversary of my husband’s passing on to the next life. We believe he is now with the Lord. God be praised!

  29. Gods work is being done, believe that Gods angles were there

  30. I’m not Catholic so a priest is not so special to me. I do believe in God and know Jesus Christ as my savior an Lord. I’m puzzled as to why people are so surprised that angels appear among us. It may not be a human, It may be an angel in human form, and it may be that God uses a person well known to you to serve as an angel for a time

  31. There is also a strong resemblance between the sketch and photos of St. Maximilian Kolbe.


  33. Why question? Just believe and appreciate.

  34. Pingback: More info on mysterious priest…. | Catholic Year of Faith Blog

  35. I accept your challenge. It was Fulton Sheen. The sheriff deputy on the scene said in an interview he was wearing all black and had a cross or crucifix around his neck. Sound like it could have been a bishop. Man in his 60′s or so, slight accent, heartland of America, I say if it was a saint, it was Bishop Sheen.

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  37. Remember the story of Phillip? He was taken by the Spirit to a remote area, and met an Ethiopian Eunuch trying to understand Isaiah. As a Protestant, I think the Spirit put an ordinary priest in the needed location, like He did for Phillip. Builds the faith of the priest, the girl, and so many direct and indirect witnesses!

  38. Definitely Fr. Maximillian Kolbe’s face!

  39. Or silver hair, priest like Malachi Martin?

  40. Even though it has brought many people together and reassuring their faith in God, you need to know that this Man was in a car waiting because traffic was stopped by the accident. I was told by someone there, that an Officer seen this Man and asked for him to come forward.Once done with giving a blessing he returned to his car and left when traffic was moved along.Numerous others seen him also but much more has been made out of it. He was not seen again because of that.Now, because of all of the media attention you and I know he will not come forward and he wasn’t doing it to get attention but to offer a Blessing from God to this girl.Yes there may have been a devine intervention by placing him in this situation to be there for her and the crews and that would be what we would hope for..

    • Not so..if that were the truth the Priest would stop the media frenzy and come forward. Please are just making up stories because they are afraid of the truth that this was a miracle.

  41. how about Fr Emil Kapaun… He looks like him to me…

  42. Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

  43. Victoria Williams stockma

    I have learned since my son’s death and my own brush with death , that God is real and so, by the way is evil. God is always with us and looking out for us and those that have gone before us. It’s not always pleasant in the present, but He is forever aware of his promise of His gift of Grace to each and everyone of us. The priest who showed up to help the girl and then disappeared was God’s messenger. Please don’t be a doubter.

  44. Miracle? I think not. Even the article states:
    Hannibal Fire Department showed up with heavy equipment to cut through the metal. Lentz was extricated from the wreckage and into an Air Evac helicopter.
    And the priest also was parked 150 yards away per his own report. Some sensational reporting.

  45. The priest has come forward. His name is Fr Dowling. Interestingly he doesn’t look anything like the composite.

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  47. Pingback: Mysterious crash-site priest comes forward ! |

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  50. God sends his angels to rescue his people when they are in trouble, this has happened to us when my son met with a car accident.
    thank you Jesus.

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