It sounds like a Twilight Zone episode... which isn't too far from the truth!
tale of Rudolph Fentz is an amazing one. Too good to be true, you might say. And sadly for those of us in the Fortean biz, you would be right.
Here is the story: in 1950 a man materializes on the streets of Manhattan, right in front of a speeding car. The car strikes the man, killing him instantly. When police arrive at the scene, they note that the man's clothing is bizarrely out of date, archaic yet seemingly new. The man has old currency in his pockets, some of the coins still apparently new from the mint. In his wallet they find a card identifying him as Rudolph Fentz, Sr., along with receipts for such old-timey things as boarding fees for his carriage horse.
One plucky New York City policeman can't let the mystery drop. He checks the phone book and finds a listing for a Rudolph Fentz, Jr. When he pays the younger Fentz a visit, he learns that Rudolph Fentz, Sr. went out for a walk in 1876 and never returned.
Was he sucked through some kind of time vortex, only to be tragically struck and killed the instant he landed in the modern era?
The first clue that this story is just a story is that its narrative is too pat. It's a tale ripped straight from The Twilight Zone. It's too story-shaped, to coin a phrase.
And it turns out that this is indeed a work of fiction. Somehow a 1953 short story by an Akron, OH author named Ralph M. Holland has managed to enter the collective unconscious, and found circulation as an urban legend. (Oddly, Holland's story is itself a fabrication, based apparently on a Jack Finney story from the Heinlein-edited anthology Tomorrow, The Stars.)
Humans love mysteries. It seems to be practically baked into our mental motherboards. A mystery is a question that needs to be answered, an itch that you can't quite scratch. The mystery of time travel, the appearance of a mysterious stranger, the fact that he is identified only with the evocative term "European," it's all just too seductive for us NOT to believe in it, if only for a few moments.
Statistically, if something like this were to happen, it's most likely that the unwitting time traveler would be dumped unceremoniously into the ocean. (The world is, after all, about 75% water.) The likelihood that a time traveler would be dropped in the middle of a street in Manhattan is almost as low as the likelihood of time travel itself!