International attention given to Ralls County accident
General Manager/Editor Ron Schott
An accident in Ralls County on the morning of Sunday, August 4 has reached media outlets worldwide after talks of a possible angel/”mystery priest” came to the scene to offer prayers during a desperate situation.
Most of the major news networks, shows like Good Morning America, and cable television news channels featured a KHQA report about an accident that occurred three miles west of Center on Missouri Highway 19.
A sketch of the angel/”mystery priest” was distributed and speculation grew as the week went on as to what exactly happened. Some responders did say that the sketch didn’t resemble the priest they saw. I even speculated that the sketch looked like Ralls County Fire Chief Raymond Reed, though responders appeared confident in what they saw.
According to several reports, emergency crews worked for more than an hour to pull 19-year-old Katie Lentz, of Quincy, Ill., from her 1989 Mercedes after she was hit head on by a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado driven by 26-year-old Aaron Smith, of New London. Smith’s charges of a DWI, second degree assault and failure to drive on the right half of the roadway are pending.
After almost an hour had passed in trying to free Lentz, who was pinned between the steering wheel and her seat, rescue workers were preparing to move the car back on all four of its wheels at a risk to the trapped teenager.
Then workers said out of nowhere, a priest approached Lentz and offered prayer. Workers said the scene became calm. They said they heard their tools would work and they would be successful getting Lentz from her vehicle.
Almost instantly, the Hannibal Fire Department arrived with their equipment. Lentz was extracted and quickly loaded into the Air Evac helicopter.
Those at the scene didn’t know where the priest came from as traffic was blocked for a quarter of a mile down the road during the hour and a half rescue.
After a search into local Catholic churches for the “mystery priest,” it has been confirmed that the Rev. Patrick Dowling, a priest in the Jefferson City Dioceses, was the mystery bystander.
The Rev. Dowling told KHQA that was driving through the area and was already stuck in the blockade before authorities started to block traffic. He then parked behind a large vehicle about 150 yards from the scene and walked up to a member of the Ralls County Sheriff’s Department and asked if he could approach the scene.
In a recent interview, Dowling was quick to give credit where credit is due.
“It is almighty God that intervened, if we are to believe the accounts of the responders,” said Dowling in a full KHQA interview available for viewing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnCOVA3S7vU.
“Because there’s something exceptional there in the matter of her rescue in my opinion, and for that you give credit to God. You say thank God and what you do is you worship God. That’s why you go to church on Sundays to give thanks to God for his goodness. He loves us, He cares for us, His providence follows us every moment of our lives and you honor Him according to His commandment by worshipping Him on Sundays.”
It’s important to note that Dowling said he didn’t say a prayer for tools to work as some media reports interpreted the fire chief’s statements.
What Reed said was “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.”
Reed didn’t say clearly who said the words he heard.
That to me is an example of God doing a work as Father Dowling said in his interview.
Dowling is reportedly a native of Ireland and has served parishes in places like Monroe City and Moberly.
Lentz’s legs were injured and she also had a broken wrist and several broken ribs. She is still listed in serious condition.