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Snake-handling pastor Jamie Coots dies from rattler bite

Jamie Coots starred on National Geographic reality show Snake Salvation.

By Evan Bleier

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Ky., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- A Kentucky pastor who was on the National Geographic reality show Snake Salvation because of his ability to handle serpents died on Saturday after being bitten by a snake and refusing treatment.

Pentecostal pastor Jamie Coots was a third-generation "serpent handler" and the show featured Coots and other cast members handling poisonous snakes like copperheads, rattlers and cottonmouths.

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According to the show’s website, Coots believed “in a bible passage that suggests a poisonous snakebite will not harm them as long as they are anointed by God’s power. If they don’t practice the ritual of snake handling, they believe they are destined for hell.”

On Saturday, Coots was bitten at a church at around 8:30 p.m. and simply went home. When emergency workers went to his house around 9 p.m., Coots refused treatment. An hour later, ambulance crew members returned and found Coots dead.

"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,” National Geographic Channels spokeswoman Stephanie Montgomery said in a statement to CNN.

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"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."

[CNN] [Snake Salvation]

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