UPDATE, 11:15 AM: With the first season fully filmed National Geographic had no plans for a second season of Snake Salvation, says a network rep. Now in the wake of Jamie Coots‘ death NatGeo is working up a special tribute episode “so people can understand Pastor Jamie and his method of worship and see that he died doing what he believed was his calling.” Here’s NatGeo on Coots’ passing:
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.
PREVIOUSLY, 9:54 AM: Jamie Coots, one of the stars of National Geographic‘s reality show Snake Salvation, died Saturday of a venomous snake bite. According to reports he refused medical attention after being bitten in his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Kentucky and died shortly thereafter in his home. The show debuted last Fall centered on two Pentecostal preachers who handle deadly snakes as part of a century-old Appalachian practice originating from a Bible passage that suggests those anointed by God will not be harmed by a poisonous snake bite. Coots had previously been bitten nine times and lost a finger to a rattlesnake bite. He starred on Snake Salvation alongside Tennessee Pastor Andrew Hamblin, both of whom claim serpent handling is their First Amendment religious right. The pair have come under fire from authorities for hunting and collecting deadly snakes for their church services. Last year Coots pled guilty to illegally possessing and transporting three rattlesnakes and two copperheads in Tennessee after the state seized them in a traffic stop as he was driving them from Alabama to Kentucky.