Los Angeles: Jamie Coots, the Appalachian minister and Snake Salvation reality star who died on Saturday after a rattlesnake he was handling in church bit him on the hand, will be remembered with a tribute special to air on the National Geographic Channel.
Coots, who was 42, was the star of NatGeo’s Snake Salvation, which aired for a single season on the cable channel last year. He handled snakes while ministering at his church in Middleboro, Kentucky, and was a practitioner of a 100-year-old tradition that involved the handling of live and deadly snakes in church. He believed he was anointed with God’s power and if he was bitten he would be protected from the venom.
As it turned out, that was not the case.
In a statement, National Geographic said: “In following Pastor Coots for our series, Snake Salvation, we were constantly struck by his devout religious convictions despite the health and legal peril he often faced. Those risks were always worth it to him and his congregants as a means to demonstrate their unwavering faith. We were honoured 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. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”
While the channel has no plans to return with a second season of Snake Salvation, it is planning a special to pay tribute to the pastor, although details have not yet been revealed.
Coots’ son Cody told local TV station WBIR that the minister had been bitten eight times in his life. After receiving the snake bite on Saturday, Coots returned home and refused treatment from paramedics. He died soon after.