‘Snake Salvation’ TV Star Jamie Coots Dies After Being Bitten

'Snake Salvation' TV Star Jamie Coots Dies After Being Bitten

The National Geographic reality show pastor led congregations that believe faith will save them from venom

Jamie Coots, a star of the National Geographic TV reality series “Snake Salvation,” died Saturday after being bitten by a snake and refusing medical treatment.

Coots was one of two pastors from a Pentacostal church in Middleboro Ky. featured on the show about snake handling at a sect of Christian churches in Kentucky, Alabama, West Virginia and Tennessee, where worshippers believe faith will protect them from the venom of poisonous snakes.

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Coots death was confirmed to TheWrap Sunday by the National Geographic Channels, which issued this statement:

“National Geographic joins his family, friends and community in mourning the loss of Pastor Jamie Coots. 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 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. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

Coots was bitten on his right hand Saturday night by a snake, according to Kentucky's Lexington-Herald Leader. An ambulance crew and firefighters tried to talk Coots into going to the hospital, but he refused treatment, according to the report.

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Coots had suffered serious bites twice before. He told the Herald-Leader that he nearly died in the early 1990s when a large rattlesnake bit him on the left arm, and in 1998, a rattlesnake he was handling suddenly struck the middle finger of his right hand.

Coots refused treatment for the excruciating bites in both of those cases.

“It's a victory to God's people that the Lord seen fit to bring me through it,” he said the day after the bite in 1998.

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Coots’ church was the site of a previous fatal snake bite in August 1995. Melinda Brown, 28, of Parrotsville, Tenn., died after she was bitten on the arm by a large rattlesnake. After her death, police considered charging Coots with violating Kentucky's law against handling snakes in church, but a judge said Coots should not be prosecuted for practicing his faith.

Brown's husband, John Wayne “Punkin” Brown, 34, later died after being bitten by a rattlesnake in church in Alabama.

Kentucky has outlawed handing poisonous snakes in religious services since 1940, but the law is rarely enforced because of reluctance by authorities to prosecute people for their religious beliefs.


  • johnnychill

    Good call refusing medical assistance. Another victim of religion.

  • Bored

    Praise the Lord. Another nut case fanatic bites the dust. The real idiots are the Nat'l Geo producers and other reality vultures who profit from these sick people. Serious image bringdown for the shooty Geo brand.

  • A.L. Hern

    The problem is not that one of these lunatics dies every now and then from the very thing they're trying to prove they have god-granted immunity to, but that they don't die off often enough.

    Why don't they (or we) replace their childish rattlesnakes with African black mambas and see if their god is a match for the fastest and most aggressive venomous snakes on earth? MY money says the mambas would put an end to their wacky sect — pastors, congregation and choir — VERY quickly.

    • Lindum

      You are right. Chances of surviving a rattle-snake bite without treatment: 97.5% Black mamba untreated bite 0%. That would be a real act of faith.

  • brodawaydebut

    My Friend you are /were a full

  • brodawaydebut

    Scuse me, you were a fuller

  • Armond White is my master now

    Ah, the irony!


  • Katina Cooper

    Why didn't God save him? Why did he have to have medical help? Why didn't the congregation pray to God to save him?Only one reason. God does not exist. These religious nut cases are all for getting medical help for themselves, but if somebody gets medical help for their children, then they get chastised for not praying to God for help. Bunch of religious hypocrites.

    • Jaggikinz

      He DIDN'T get medical help – he refused it – that's why he died. Didn't you read the article??

  • Sean S

    i wouldn't wish harm to come to anyone other than my mortal enemies, but i'm glad this guy died and taught his followers a lesson.

  • labman57

    Pastor Coots, your Darwin Award is ready …

  • David

    Hey Todd,
    it's Pentecostal. And these folks are nutburgers, nothing to do with the actual faith.

    • RCDavis

      Well that is the problem, isn't it? All religious views are equally unsupported by evidence – not just the ones that insist on handling snakes to prove their conviction.

      • ScramblinSooner

        Obviously you've done no research, or real research on religion, specifically Jesus. There's plenty of archeological evidence to support the Bible's historical claims, and much recorded by secular scholars of Jesus’ day on his earthly ministry. Put in a little effort before making a bold, blanket statement.

        • RCDavis

          Ah, that's the irony then, isn't it? When non-theists on average know more about religions than the theists that purport to believe in that particular set of Memes, it makes discussions….interesting! :-)

          So here we go: There ARE no contemporaneous records of your Jesus. Did he exist? Probably, or someone existed that the legends were based upon – and he seems like a great guy. People since have taken the good parts of these legends and used them to justify the good that they have done – how can that be a bad thing?

          People should believe what they want. We are lucky to live in countries where that right is upheld – it's just that medieval fantasies have no place in any school classroom or any government, and when we allow religionists to infect those places, we do so at our peril, and at peril for the enlightenment that so many died to achieve.

          Peace Out.

  • Thors Hammer

    It's reality, someone will probably die. Was it God's fault, no I don't believe so. God takes many forms to many people or no form at all to an atheist. The real problem is producers creating these shows and putting people on TV that should not be there. Quite a few of these snake handlers die, But so do hosts of Nature reality shows who get stung by stingrays or mauled by lions. We need to go back to telling stories and cut out this reality stuff. The producers are taking advantage of these people and the audience for their own personal gain. Stop watching these shows.

  • A.L. Hern

    OMG! I forgot to ask: is the snake all right?

  • Purity

    That cannot be a real name “John Wayne “Punkin” Brown.

  • me

    One less jesus freak

  • me

    God saves no one!

  • me

    just a story

  • boognish


  • Jaggikinz

    My religion expresses worship in the armed robbing of banks and spending gobs of the cash on our personal wants and needs. Remember, don't try to enforce any of your laws to stifle my religious freedoms!!!

  • kipbuts

    God already provided the anti-venum through the hospital but he refused it.

  • Lindum

    How do you know what it means? You are making it up as you go along.