News

Snake-handling reality TV pastor dies from snakebite

Snake-handling reality TV pastor dies from snakebite

SNAKEBITE: In this image made from a video provided by WATE, shows Jamie Coots, a pastor, who appeared on the National Geographic television reality show "Snake Salvation," in Knoxville, Tenn. Coots died Sunday, Feb. 16, after being bitten by a snake. Photo: Associated Press/Jill McNeal

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE (Reuters) – A Kentucky snake-handling preacher who appeared in a television show about the religious practice died of a snakebite after refusing medical treatment, authorities said on Sunday.

Jamie Coots was found dead at about 10 p.m. EST on Saturday at his house in Middlesboro, Kentucky, according to Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe.

Emergency personnel had gone to his home about 90 minutes earlier after getting a call, police said.

They found Coots suffering from a snakebite wound to his right hand, Sharpe said in a statement.

“After examination and discussion of possible dangers if the wound was not treated, treatment and transport to the hospital was refused,” the statement said.

The emergency responders left after failing to persuade Coots to get help but returned less than an hour later, the statement said.

They “discovered Mr. Coots had passed away, apparently due to a venomous snakebite,” it said.

Coots appeared in a National Geographic television show titled “Snake Salvation” about Pentecostal preachers who defy the law to use serpents as part of their religious services.

Snake-handling, which is illegal in most places, is practiced as a test of faith and guided by the theory that true believers will not be harmed.

It is particularly popular in parts of Appalachia. Middlesboro lies near the junction of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee and is about 60 miles north of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Videos on the online site YouTube credited to pastorcoots2012 depict serpent handling services at his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church.

They show him and congregation members dancing with snakes in their arms as music plays.

Appearing last year on ABC’s “Nightline,” Coots said he had been bitten nine times, including once that cost him a part of a finger.

“If the Bible told me to jump out of an airplane, I would,” he said on the show.

About a year ago, Coots was charged in Tennessee with illegally possessing poisonous snakes.

As part of a plea deal, he surrendered the snakes and his sentence of just under a year in jail was suspended, according to local media.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jonathan Oatis)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Florida State tops preseason Amway coaches’ poll

Fresh
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston throws a pass before an NCAA college football game against Miami Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, in Tallahassee, Fla.

Rounding out the top five were Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon and Auburn with the first-ever playoff looming at the end season.

in Sports

Dustin Johnson takes leave of absence from golf

Dustin Johnson of the US plays a shot on the 17th fairway during the second day of the British Open Golf championship at the Royal Liverpool golf club, Hoylake, England, Friday July 18, 2014.

In a statement Thursday from Hambric Sports Management, the 30-year-old Johnson said his leave of absence was effective immediately.

in Sports

Another decent start for Woods at Firestone

Tiger Woods answers questions at his news conference during the final practice day for the Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament Wednesday, July 30, 2014, in Akron, Ohio.

Woods made six birdies Thursday to open with a 2-under 68 at the Bridgestone Invitational, just four shots behind Marc Leishman.

in Sports

A’s & Tigers escalate arms race on busy MLB trade deadline day

Updated
oakland athletics and detriot tigers logos

Oakland sends Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for Jon Lester while the Tigers pick up David Price in 3-team deal.

in Sports

Ravens’ Rice publicly apologizes to wife for domestic violence

rayrice

The running back apologizes to his wife for hitting her, vowing to be an "ambassador against domestic violence."

Bellingham Traffic