They called him the "Miracle Priest" of Missouri 19 — but it turns out the mystery man of the cloth who "appeared out of nowhere" to pray by the side of accident victim Katie Lentz wasn't her "guardian angel," but an ordinary clergyman who acknowledged doing very little to actually rescue the badly injured young woman.
Father Patrick Dowling revealed his identity in a National Catholic Register article about the August 4th accident.
In the original story, which has been making worldwide headlines since last week, Lentz, 19, claimed the man now known to be Dowling suddenly showed up at the crash site after she asked rescue workers to pray for her.
Firefighters were struggling to extract Lentz from her car at the time, as the metal frame of her Mercedes was reportedly dulling the rescue equipment.
Shortly after Dowling absolved and anointed Lentz, a fresh batch of equipment arrived at the scene and the woman was safely removed from the wreckage.
Adding to the air of supernatural acts was the supposed "vanishing" of the "angel priest" and his lack of appearance in any of the 70 photos taken at the scene.
"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," Lentz' mother Carla later said.
In his self-unveiling, Dowling proceeded to shatter several illusions about how he came to be at the accident site, and what he actually did while there.
Dowling was returning from Mass in Ewing when he came upon authorities redirecting traffic.
He exited his vehicle and approached the scene, where he asked for, and received, the Sheriff's permission to approach Lentz.
I absolved and anointed Katie, and, at her request, prayed that her leg would not hurt. Then I stepped aside to where some rescue personnel and the pilot were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently. I left when the helicopter was about to take off, and before I got to my car it was on its way to Quincy.
Dowling, who shares a name with another mysterious priest, said it was the "calmness" of Highway patrol men and the professionalism of the rescue workers that saved Lentz's life, not his prayer.
Also, he insists he gave his name to a Highway Patrol sergeant before leaving.
Dowling concludes by saying that if there were any angels there that day, they were the firefighters, nurses, Sheriff's deputies, and Highway Patrol personnel.
"I hope the credit goes where it is due," he said.
Meanwhile, charges of DWI and second degree assault were brought against Aaron Smith, the driver of the vehicle that struck Lentz head-on.
[video via KHQA]