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Thursday, February 18

Snake-Handling Preacher Jamie Coots Dies From (Gasp) Snake Bite

In a twist of fate as predictable as a Love Boat plot, Jamie Coots, a preacher in Kentucky who gained fame for handling snakes while leading services at his church, died on Saturday after a rattlesnake he was handling bit him on the right hand. The 42-year-old was bitten during a religious service and, according to Middlesboro police, refused to go to the hospital for treatment.

Coots appeared on the reality series Snake Salvation, which aired on National Geographic. The show followed the snake handler as he battled the law and outsiders in an attempt to maintain his religious practices at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church. Coots and his followers were often shown handling poisonous snakes, such as rattlers, copperheads and cottonmouths. Other snake handlers also appeared on the show, which was canceled after its first season.

In an interview which aired earlier on the ABC News show, Nightline, Coots said that he and the parishioners at his church believe they have been called upon by God to handle venomous snakes and to drink other poisonous substances. Should one of the church members be bitten, their practice is to refuse medical intervention, believing that God alone is in charge of their fate. God does not appear to like snake handlers very much, because he chooses to let a lot of them die.

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