I promised you some atheist material today. I lied.

If I’m desperate enough for content to post Slate’s anti-Redskins grandstanding, you’d better believe I’m willing to post this:

Reed’s team and emergency workers from several other jurisdictions tried for at least 45 minutes to remove the twisted metal from around Lentz. Various pieces of equipment broke and the team was running out of choices. A helicopter waited to carry Lentz to the nearest trauma center. Though Lentz appeared calm, talking about her church and her studies toward a dentistry degree, her vital signs were beginning to fail, Reed 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…

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.

When they went to thank the priest, he was gone as mysteriously as he’d arrived — and according to Reed, among 69 photographs taken at the scene during the rescue, the priest doesn’t appear in a single one. Dude?

More from KHQA:

“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.

“Where did this guy come from?” Lentz’s friend Travis Wiseman asked. “We’re looking for the priest and so far, no one has seen him. Whether it was a priest as an angel or an actual angel, he was an angel to all those and to Katie.”

In comparing the two accounts, I noticed that Reed is the only person who’s directly quoted as having seen the priest. But other people did see him; another person present at the crash site told KHQA he had dark hair, a dark complexion, an accent of some sort, and was maybe 5’6″ or so. Another bystander added that he had horn-rimmed glasses and bore a resemblance to Walter Matthau. How that description, of a short-ish dark-haired man, squares with the USA Today account of a man six feet tall or so with silver hair, I have no idea. Another discrepancy: USA Today says the road was blocked off for two miles but KHQA says it was only a quarter-mile. How hard is it to imagine a priest from out of state driving by, noticing the roadblock, figuring out somehow that there was an accident, and walking up the road to the scene in order to help? He had plenty of time to cover a quarter-mile during the hour or so that they were first working on her. Then, in the flurry of excitement once the car was back on its wheels and the emergency workers were preoccupied with evacuating Lentz, he simply walked back to his own car and drove away.

Let’s ask a fellow priest what he thinks of the angelic explanation:

Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of My Life with the Saints, has a different theory.

“Most likely the priest will be identified, and people will be able to thank him,” he told The Huffington Post in an emailed message Thursday. “If he’s not found, that may mean he wants to remain anonymous. Could it have been an angel? There are similar ‘angelic’ stories in the lives of the saints, when a figure inexplicably appears and cannot be located afterwards. There are angels, of course, but we tend to ascribe to angels anonymous acts that we find incredibly loving — when in fact human beings do incredibly loving things in hidden ways every day.”

Imagine if you’re the mystery priest watching the buzz of excitement and wonderment from people who want to believe an angel was responsible. Do you come forward, or do you lie low to encourage it?