Snake-handling pastor's son describes father's last moments

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MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (WVLT) -- Cody Coots, son of deceased pastor Jamie Coots, described Saturday's night service as beautiful.

"And everybody was getting in, shouting, taking up serpents, speaking in tongues, handling fire. I mean, you could just feel the power of God," Cody said.

But it came to an abrupt end.

"I was there when it happened. I was standing there, and I'd seen him get bit," he said.

Jamie later passed out ,and he never regained consciousness. They took him to his house where he soon died.

"If he had lived and woke up in a hospital bed, he would have blamed every one of us. He was a firm believer, he would not go to a hospital. He always told us, you get bit, you either die at home, or god brings you through," Cody said.

Jaime was bitten many times in the past, in fact, so has Cody. In an interview back in 2012, Jamie said he wasn't scared of the snakes.

"I'll say this, I don't actually want to die of a serpent bite, but I had rather die and leave these walks of life with a serpent bite knowing it's people standing around me praying as to be in a car wreck and people standing around me cussing. I would rather die in that spiritual atmosphere, even if it does mean a serpent bite," Jamie said.

Cody admits the church and their controversial practices aren't for everyone.

"But it's kinda like a family tradition. If you've not been raised up in this you're not gonna understand it," Cody explained.

Church member "Big Cody" Wynn said they'll all miss Jamie.

"You'd have had to have heard the man sing a song," he said.

While Cody wants his father back, he said it was his time to go.

"I love my dad, but God has a plan. You can't change it," he said.

With Jamie's passing, Cody will now take over the church. They will still use snakes and carry on with regular worship, starting with Wednesday's service.

The family is planning a private funeral service for sometime this week.

Original Story:

Pastor Jamie Coots died Saturday night after being bitten by a snake in his church.

Coots was the pastor at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name on Evans Road in Middlesboro. He was also known for his role on National Geographic's show "Snake Salvation."

Police say they think Coots may have been handling a rattlesnake in a church service when it bit his right hand. Middlesboro Fire and EMS responded, but Coots had already gone to his home on Winchester Avenue.

Coots' son, Cody tells Local 8 News his father passed out shortly after being bit and never regained consciousness.

The family refused medical treatment.

About an hour later at 10 p.m., EMS returned to the scene and found that Coots had died.

Venomous snakebite is believed to be the cause of death.

Last year, our sister station WYMT, spoke with Coots after he was stopped in Knoxville. Police found several rattlesnakes and copperheads in his car.

Coots said he didn't believe snakes could hurt him because they have the power of God.

"We use them in our religious ceremonies," Coots said, "and I believe, as for me, if I don't have them there to use, I'm not obeying the word of God."

On "Snake Salvation" Coots said he was a third-generation snake handler and hoped to one day pass the church on to his son, Cody.

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