In February, Pastor Jamie Coots was bitten by a rattlesnake during his serpent handling church service in eastern Kentucky and was dead within hours. This week his 21-year-old son nearly suffered the same fate.
Jamie Coots was bitten on his right hand by a six-foot long rattler Monday morning as he was using a hooked pole to take venomous snakes from a cage he keeps at his mother's house. He was trying to get two into a carrying case and was reaching for a third when the other rattler lunged out of the cage at him and bit him on the index finger of his right hand.
The call went out for fellow church members to come and pray for his recovery and about two dozen people went to the house. Coots, in line with his religious beliefs, refused medical assistance.
Earlier this year, Coots told WKU Public Radio being bitten by poisonous snakes is part of his job. "I like to handle snakes," he said, "I've been bit five times, strictly cottonmouths. But one of those bites, God was moving on me, the thing reached and grabbed me right in the back of the shoulder and never did hurt me. I just kept right on dancing with fire in one hand and a snake in the other."
Coots is a fourth generation snake handler at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church that his family founded in Middlesboro, Kentucky. It was there his father, Jamie, was struck down earlier this year. "If I had to die at a young age just like he did, " he said, "it was my time to go, I'll still carry on in the signs. If I die from handling serpents it wouldn't bother me. At least I'd be in the good service before I leave this walk of life."
Coots says his bite is still a little painful but he expects to be back to work this week.