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'Snake Salvation' Pastor Jamie Coots Killed by Venomous Bite

Image: 'Snake Salvation' Pastor Jamie Coots Killed by Venomous Bite

By Clyde Hughes   |   Wednesday, 19 Feb 2014 09:09 AM

Jamie Coots, a snake-handling preacher and star of the National Geographic reality show "Snake Salvation," refused medical treatment before dying from a snake bite from a rattlesnake during a church service.

Coots received national attention from "Snake Salvation," which aired on the National Geographic Channel last fall, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. He was pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, a small church in Middlesboro, Ky. 

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Coots was a third-generation snake handler and was well-known among the small, close-knit congregation of snake-handling Pentecostal churches in Appalachia. "Snake Salvation," which has not been renewed for a second season, featured Coots and other snake-handling preachers.

The show's website states that pastors believe "in a bible passage that suggests a poisonous snakebite will not harm them as long as they are anointed by God's power. If they don't practice the ritual of snake handling, they believe they are destined for hell." The website made no mention of Coots' death as of Wednesday.

TMZ reported emergency personnel were contacted after Coots was bitten Saturday. They went to the church to help him but found that the preacher had left for home. Once crews reached Coots at his home, family members turned them away. 

Cody Coots, the preacher's son, told the Herald-Leader that they knew his father, who had lost consciousness, would have strongly objected to being taken to the hospital.

"He always said, 'Don't take me to the doctor' if he was bitten," Cody Coots said. "It was totally against his religion."

Coots' wife, Linda, did sign a form declining treatment for her husband, with Cody Coots and a police officer as witnesses.

"It was the quickest snakebite I ever seen in my life," Cody Coots told the Herald-Leader. "He said, 'My face feels like it's on fire.'"

Coots' death appears to be the first from a snake bite during a Kentucky church service since November 2006, when a woman died while attending a Laurel County service.

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