'Snake Salvation' Pastor Jamie Coots Dies After Snakebite During Church Service

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Feb. 17 2014, Published 10:46 a.m. ET

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In a story reminiscent of Steve Irwin's death, another reality star has been felled handling the animals that helped make him famous.

Jamie Coots of National Geographic's "Snake Salvation" died late Saturday after he was bit on the hand by a venom-filled rattlesnake as he conducted a service at Middlesboro, Ky.'s Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church, and has the details for you.

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Coots' fellow Pentecostal preacher Cody Winn described the tragic chain of events to WBIR, saying that "he had one of the rattlers in his hand, he came over and he was standing beside me.

"It was plain view, it just turned its head and bit him in the back of the hand ... within a second."

Coots dropped the snake upon being bitten, kept on with his service, then headed to the bathroom, Winn said.

Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe said that Coots was not at the church when an ambulance showed up at 8:30 p.m., and passed on medical treatment when authorities contacted him at home. He was dead just after 10 p.m., police said.

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Coots' son Cody told WBIR his father had suffered eight bites prior to Saturday's fatal one, and didn't think it would be life-threatening.

"We're going to go home, he's going to lay on the couch, he's going to hurt, he's going to pray for a while and he's going to get better," the son said. "That's what happened every other time, except this time was just so quick and it was crazy, it was really crazy."

In a statement, National Geographic said, "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."

"Those risks were always worth it to him and his congregants as a means to demonstrate their unwavering faith."



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