The rattlesnake whose bite killed pastor Jamie Coots on Saturday will be back in church this weekend, says his son, Cody Coots.
The 42-year-old Snake Salvation pastor was bitten Saturday while he was preaching to his congregation and refused medical help. He died a short time later.
Cody Coots, 21, says his father’s death was “God’s way” of taking him home, and the family will embrace the deadly snake again at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesboro, Ky., this Saturday.
“It was God saying, 'This is how you wanted it, and it's your time to go.' ... If he didn't plan [to die this way] he would have stayed alive,” Cody Coots told TMZ.
Coots says the family still believes in God’s protection from snake venom despite his father’s death. He has assumed leadership of his father’s congregation.
Cody Winn says he was right next to Coots when the pastor was bitten, and it happened very quickly.
“Jamie went across the floor," Winn recalls. "He had one of the rattlers in his hand, he came over, and he was standing beside me. It was in plain view. It just turned its head and bit him in the back of the hand, within a second.”
Cody Coots reportedly says his father had been bitten eight times before the fatal incident, and that’s what they were expecting this time.
“We’re going to go home, he’s going to lay on the couch, he’s going to hurt, he’s going to pray for a while and he’s going to get better," Coots said in the Associated Press report. "That’s what happened every other time, except this time was just so quick and it was crazy, it was really crazy.”
Using snakes during religious services is not legal in Kentucky, but game warden Ray Lawson told TMZ his department has no authority to enforce state law, and the police don’t enforce it. He did say Coots had proper permits to transport, hold and sell copperhead and timber rattlesnakes.