Courtesy: National Geographic
UPDATE 2/17/14 @ 7:35 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) --- Larry Cartmill has a love of snakes.
That may sound like a stretch, but they fascinate them.
"For the most part in the United State, the bad reputation stems from Genesis," Cartmill said. "Snakes, like everything else on this planet, serve a purpose."
On Saturday, a snake-handling pastor from western Kentucky died from a snake bite. The Rev. Jamie Coots was the star of "Snake Salvation" on the National Geographic Channel.
"Nothing wrong with prayer," Cartmill said. "But you've got to see a doctor."
Coots' son Cody stands firm in his religious beliefs and says his father died for his beliefs.
"He would not go to the hospital," Cody Coots said. "He always told me, 'You get bit, you either die at home or God brings you through.' "
Cartmill says the sensationalism of the event makes news. There are more than 2,000 people bitten by snakes a year but, on average, only about 10 people die.
"A lot of people will lose fingers and hands because of the venom, but they won't lose their life," Cartmill said. "This preacher who died lost his life because he didn't seek medical treatment."
According to a news release from the Middlesboro Police Department, someone called first responders at about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday regarding a snake-bite victim at a church.
When the ambulance arrived, they were told that Jamie Coots had gone home.
Contacted at his house, Coots refused medical treatment. Emergency workers left a little after 9:00 p.m.
When they returned about an hour later, Coots was dead.
Coots was caught in January 2013 transporting three rattlesnakes and two copperheads through Knoxville, Tenn., 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.