Pastor Jamie Coots had been handling snakes for the past 21 years, and had been bitten eight times and even lost a finger before a rattlesnake bit him during a service on Saturday that resulted in his death.
Reuters Pastor Jamie Coots was bitten by a rattlesnake.
Coots, 42, a Pentecostal pastor from Kentucky, was a star of National Geographic's "Snake Salvation" reality series where he handles snakes and preaches his belief that poisonous snakes will not harm believers as long as they are blessed by God.
The show documented the pastor’s work to preserve the Christian tradition of handling snakes, which is illegal in most states in the U.S.
Police officials told ABC News that they received a call about a snakebite injury at around 8.30 p.m. on Saturday. But when emergency respondents reached Coots’ church, he had already driven away to his home.
Officials then went to his home and tried to persuade him to accept medical help. But he refused saying that it was God’s plan.
During an interview with Sunday Night, an Australian program, in 2013, Coots said that he would not accept medical help if he is bitten during service.
“I made a vow to god when I first started taking up serpents that if ever I was bitten I wouldn't go to hospital,” he said at the time, according to Daily Mail. “I believe that when its my time to go there aint a doctor in this world that can keep me here.”
At the interview, he said that he had been handling snakes since he was in his early 20s after God instructed him to do so.
“A peace and a calm came over me and yet an overwhelming joy that God had counted me worthy to let me do that,' he recalled, and added that his family is involved in carrying on the tradition.
“To see Trina [daughter] or Cody [son] take up a serpent, I know I have done my job as far as training them up in what we believe,” he said.
Coots had to constantly battle the law, and in February 2013 he was given one year of probation for crossing into Tennessee with venomous snakes, according to National Geographic.
In 2008, he was arrested for keeping 74 snakes in his home.
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