The West

Snake-handling pastor dies from snake bite
In this May 6, 2012 photo, Jamie Coots, pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church of Middlesboro, Ky, stands on a bench in the church, singing and holding a rattlesnake during a service at Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tennessee.

Snake-handling US pastor Jamie Coots, who appeared on the National Geographic television reality show Snake Salvation, has died after being bitten by a snake.

A Middlesboro Police Department spokesman said someone reported a snake-bite at a Kentucky church on Saturday night.

When the ambulance arrived, they were told that pastor Jamie Coots had gone home.

Police arrived at his home and Coots refused medical treatment. Emergency workers left but when they returned about an hour later, Coots was dead.

Pastor Jamie Coots starred in a reality TV show called Snake Salvation. Photo: National Geographic.

Coots was caught in January 2013 transporting three rattlesnakes and two copperheads through Knoxville, Tennessee, for his church.

Tennessee wildlife officials confiscated the snakes, and Coots pleaded guilty to illegally wildlife possession. He was given one year of unsupervised probation.

Pastor Jamie Coots and his wife, who has kept the blackened fingertip her husband lost after a separate snake bite. Photo: National Geographic.

Coots had already lost a finger to snake bite, allowing it to rot and turn black on his hand, exposing the bone before it eventually broke off.

His wife Linda kept the blackened fingertip in a jar, telling Coots "I'll always have a piece of you wherever you go," she once said.

Coots's grandfather started the Church around 100 years ago and Coots has been a pastor there since 1994.

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