In very sad news, Jamie Coots — one of the stars of National Geographic's reality series Snake Salvation — has died from a venomous snake bite at the age of 42.
Jamie, a preacher who handles snakes, was bitten by a snake on February 15 at his church, the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, in Middleton, Kentucky. He was taken to his nearby home, where he died, according to ABC News.
Police received a phone call that evening from Jamie's church, alerting them to his injury. When emergency responders got to his home, they saw he had been bitten on his hand, but Jamie refused medical attention. The medical staff stayed at Jamie's home for 40 minutes, trying to no avail to convince Jamie to go to the hospital. The medical personnel eventually left, and Jamie died shortly thereafter.
Snake Salvation, which premiered in September 2013, focused on two Pentecostal preachers — Jamie being one of them — who handle deadly snakes, believing that those anointed by God would not be harmed by a snake bite. Jamie and his parishioners believe that they must refuse medical treatment if bitten by a snake, as they feel that their fate is in God's hands.
Jamie himself had previously been bitten nine times and had lost a finger from a rattlesnake bite when he refused medical attention. Last year, he pled guilty to illegally possessing and transporting several deadly snakes in Tennessee as he was driving them from Alabama to Kentucky. Both Jamie's father and grandfather had handled deadly snakes as Pentecostal preachers.
NatGeo had not been planning to air a second season of the series, but it will soon air a tribute episode to Jamie, "so people can understand Pastor Jamie and his method of worship and see that he died doing what he believed was his calling." Jamie is survived by wife Linda and two children. His son, Cody, has also been bitten by snakes several times.
Our thoughts are with Jamie's family and loved ones during this tragic time.