MIDDLESBORO, Kentucky - A snake-handling pastor who died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a weekend worship service in Kentucky has survived many other bites in the past, his son says.
Jamie Coots, who appeared on the
National Geographic television reality show "Snake Salvation" has died after being bitten by a snake during a weekend church service
"He had one of the rattlers in his hand, he came over and he was standing beside me. It was plain view, it just turned its head and bit him in the back of the hand ... within a second," a witness said.
When an ambulance arrived at the church at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, they were told that Coots had gone home, the Middlesboro Police Department said in a statement. Contacted at his house, Coots refused medical treatment.
Emergency workers left about 9:10
p.m. When they returned about an hour later, Coots was dead from a venomous snake bite, police added.
"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. That's what happened every other time, except this time was just so quick and it was crazy," Cody Coots said.
In January 2013, Coots was caught transporting three rattlesnakes and two copperheads through Knoxville, Tennessee. Wildlife officials confiscated the snakes, and Coots pleaded guilty to illegally wildlife possession. He was given one year of unsupervised probation.
Coots said in February 2013 that he needed the snakes for religious reasons, citing a Bible passage in the book of Mark.
National Geographic said in a statement that it was struck by Coots' "devout religious convictions despite the health and legal peril he often faced."
In 1995, 28-year-old Melinda
Brown, of Parrottsville, Tennessee, died after being bitten at Coot's church by
a 4-foot-long timber rattlesnake.