A Kentucky snake-handling preacher who
appeared in a television show about the religious practice died of a snakebite
after refusing medical treatment, authorities said on Sunday.
Jamie Coots was found dead at about 10 pm
EST on Saturday (0300 GMT on Sunday) at his house in Middlesboro, Kentucky,
according to Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe.
Emergency personnel had gone to his home
about 90 minutes earlier after getting a call, police said.
They found Coots suffering from a snakebite
wound to his right hand, Sharpe said in a statement.
"After examination and discussion of
possible dangers if the wound was not treated, treatment and transport to the
hospital was refused," the statement said.
The emergency responders left after failing
to persuade Coots to get help but returned less than an hour later, the
They "discovered Mr Coots had passed
away, apparently due to a venomous snakebite," it said.
believers will not be harmed
Coots appeared in a National Geographic
television show titled "Snake Salvation" about Pentecostal preachers
who defy the law to use serpents as part of their religious services.
which is illegal in most places, is practiced as a test of faith and guided by
the theory that true believers will not be harmed.
It is particularly popular in parts of
Appalachia. Middlesboro lies near the junction of Kentucky, Virginia and
Tennessee and is about 60 miles (100 km) north of Knoxville, Tennessee.
Videos on the online site YouTube credited
to pastorcoots2012 depict serpent handling services at his Full Gospel
Tabernacle in Jesus Name church.
They show him and congregation members
dancing with snakes in their arms as music plays.
Appearing last year on ABC's
"Nightline," Coots said he had been bitten nine times, including once
that cost him a part of a finger.
"If the Bible told me to jump out of
an airplane, I would," he said on the show.
About a year ago, Coots was charged in
Tennessee with illegally possessing poisonous snakes.
As part of a plea deal, he surrendered the
snakes and his sentence of just under a year in jail was suspended, according
to local media.
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