Snake-Handling Reality TV Pastor Dies After Snakebite

Feb 16, 2014

Jamie Coots, a third-generation snake-handling Pentecostal preacher, died Saturday night after being bitten by one of his serpents.

Coots, known for handling poisonous rattlesnakes and featured on the National Geographic reality series Snake Salvation, was bitten on his right hand and died in his home after refusing medical treatment, NPR's John Burnett tells our Newscast unit.

Coots was a pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Ky.

He told NPR last year he'd been bitten nine times in 22 years. Each time, he believed, he recovered through faith healing. Coots continued to handle snakes, he said, because it's in the Book of Matthew.

"I feel in my heart, because God opened it up to me, if I stopped taking up serpents I would die and go to hell," Coots told NPR at the time. "It is in the Bible, and we tell people because it's in the Bible you must believe it."

Coots was 41.

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