Jamie Coots, one of the stars of National Geographic’s reality show Snake Salvation, died Saturday of a venomous snake bite. According to reports, Coots refused medical attention after being bitten in his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Kentucky and died shortly after in his home. The show debuted last Fall centered on two Pentecostal preachers who handle deadly snakes as part of a century old Appalachian practice originating from a Bible passage that suggests those anointed by God will not be harmed by a poisonous snake bite. Coots had previously been bitten nine times and lost a finger to a rattlesnake bite.
Pastor Jamie Coots starred on Snake Salvation alongside Tennessee Pastor Andrew Hamblin, both of whom claim serpent handling is their First Amendment religious right. The pair have come under fire from authorities for hunting and collecting deadly snakes for their church services. Last year Coots pled guilty to illegally possessing and transporting three rattlesnakes and two copperheads in Tennessee after the state seized them in a traffic stop as he was driving them from Alabama to Kentucky.
With the first season fully filmed National Geographic had no plans for a second season of Snake Salvation, says a network rep. Now in the wake of Jamie Coots‘ death National Geographic is working up a special tribute episode “so people can understand Pastor Jamie Coots and his method of worship and see that he died doing what he believed was his calling.”
Personally, I think this guy was crazy for handling venomous snakes like that, but he truly believed he was safe from getting bit, so he was kind of in a trance. I just think it took long enough, and it was inevitable.