Pentecostal preacher Jamie Coots died Saturday at his Kentucky home on Saturday (February 15) from a snake bite.
Coots, was the co-star of the National Geographic show, Snake Salvation, which aired for one season. As part of his religion Coots believed handling serpents was commanded by God.
“To me it’s as much of a commandment from God when he said, ‘they shall take up serpents’ as it was when he ‘thou shall not commit adultery,” Coots said on the show.
Coots was referring to Mark 16: 17-18, which reads:
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
After Coots was bitten on his right hand by a rattlesnake on Saturday at his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesboro, he refused help or medical treatment. An ambulance was called, but by the time it arrived he had left.
Police went to his home trying to convince him to go to the hospital. Eventually they gave up and left. Coots died later that day.
“I watched it happen,” his son, Cody Coots, told Fox News. “I seen him get bit. He dropped the snakes and he picked them back up. If he’d have lived and woke up in a hospital he would have blamed everyone of us. Because he was a firm believer. He would not go to a hospital. He always told me: ‘You get bit, you either die at home or God brings you through.”
The preacher had been bitten several times in the past. One bite left him missing a middle finger on his right hand. He refused to treat the wound. Eventually the finger turned black, rotted and fell off. Afterwards he kept it in a jar for his wife, Linda.
National Geographic issued a statement on Coots’ passing:
“National Geographic joins his family, friends and community in mourning the loss of Pastor Jamie Coots. In following Pastor Coots for our series Snake Salvation, we were constantly struck by his 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. We were honored to be allowed such unique access to Pastor Jamie and his congregation during the course of our show, and give context to his method of worship. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”