UK & World News
Snake-Handling TV Pastor Dies From Snakebite
A snake-handling pastor who appeared on a National Geographic television reality show has died after being bitten by a snake.
Jamie Coots was bitten on the hand by a rattlesnake during a weekend church service in Kentucky.
After the bite, he dropped the snakes, but then picked them back up and continued on.
Rev Coots went home before emergency workers got to the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesboro.
The emergency workers then went to his house, but he refused medical treatment on grounds that he believed in faith healing, and declined to be taken to hospital.
When the emergency workers returned about an hour later, he was dead from a venomous bite, Middlesboro police said.
Rev Coots, a 42-year-old Pentecostal preacher, had recently been featured on the National Geographic show Snake Salvation.
His son, Cody, told local station WBIR-TV that the pastor had been bitten eight times before, but never had such a severe reaction and expected Saturday's bite to be like the others.
"We're going to go home, he's going to lay on the couch, he's going to hurt, he's going to pray for a while and he's going to get better," Cody Coots said.
"That's what happened every other time, except this time was just so quick and it was crazy, it was really crazy."
National Geographic said in a statement that it was struck by the preacher's "devout religious convictions despite the health and legal peril he often faced".
"Those risks were always worth it to him and his congregants as a means to demonstrate their unwavering faith," the statement said.
Rev Coots said that he needed the snakes for religious reasons, citing a Bible passage in the book of Mark that reads, in part: "In my name shall they cast out devils ... They shall take up serpents."
The pastor told the AP news agency last year that he took the passage literally.
"We literally believe they want us to take up snakes," he said.
"We've been serpent-handling for the past 20 or 21 years."
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