CODY COOTS: These snakes, it’s a part of the Bible, it’s part of what we are supposed to do and I am going to put that before anybody. BIG CODY: Sunday morning started out like any Sunday at Middlesboro Church. The Abraham’s family was there, me and Little Cody and wife and the kids and everybody. BIG CODY: He is preaching on the sounds. BIG CODY: I see him raise his hand up. Next thing I know, the serpent he had in his right hand had struck him and bit him in the side of the face and he is pouring the blood. JIMMY: When I looked up, he was coming up to the bottom stand and he had blood on his shoulder. TRINA COOTS: He was coughing like really bad. TRINA COOTS: I thought he was coughing out blood. I didn’t know that he could barely breathe, like, his throat was starting to swell on stuff and I was sacred. BIG CODY: I caught him and packed him up in the car and he told me to take him to the mountain top and let him die. BIG CODY: If he was going to live, he would live. If he was going to die, he would die on the mountaintop. LINDA COOTS: I said, ‘Cody, Do you want to go to the doctor? Do you want to go to the hospital?’ Because Brittany said, ‘Linda, ask him. Please, ask him.’ I don’t think he knew what was going to happen. JIMMY: I think he is going to die. Yes, I did. BIG CODY: Most people bit in the face are dead in 5-10 minutes. I mean his own daddy got bit in the hand and in 7 minutes he was dead. BIG CODY: I said, ‘I know you don’t want to and you don’t agree with it.’ I said, ‘But let’s go the doctor.’ BIG CODY: As soon as he got the hand on the doors of the ER at Middlesboro, they called Code Blue on him. RADWA MARTIN: When Cody first arrived at the ER, it was difficult for him to communicate. He became very swollen in his airway. Where the snake actually bit him was close to the temple artery. So he is lucky that he didn’t bleed to death prior to arriving at the hospital. RADWA MARTIN: After the ER physician was able to secure an airway for Cody; they were able to airlift him to the University of Tennessee hospital where he remained on life support for quite a while. They didn’t know for sure that he would even pull through. BIG CODY: I am acting Pastor right now because Little Cody is still having some effects from being bitten. He is not really wanting to have to take care of everything. He is a little bit more snappy than he usually is, you know, he’s got a lot on his shoulders now that he’s went through. CODY COOTS: I felt it bite me and within seconds it started taking on. I knew how bad it was going to be and I just told myself not to fall. It scared Brittany too bad. I couldn’t breathe, I was worried I was going to lose my balance but I couldn’t feel nothing at all. I just think my throat was swelling closed. I knew I was going to die. LINDA COOTS: You see light or darkness or what? How did it feel? Did you really think you died? CODY COOTS: You know, I knew that I died. I closed my eyes and I woke up laying down somewhere. But I remember when I got up and there was like a tunnel. But like, seeing light at the end of the tunnel and it was kind of, grey and I told myself it at that moment that I was dead and I remember hearing somebody say, ‘Why is this kid wearing pink dress pants?’ So I am like, ‘Why are you bringing me back? I will go out and you just leave me dead. I was better off. I was almost into the Lord. LINDA COOTS: How are you feeling today? CODY COOTS: Feeling like maybe there is a part of me missing. I am always worn out and don’t feel like I am going to be able to go another day. I am always having chest pains you know, and I always feel bad and puking my guts up or about to pass out. You know I have pushed for the Church, I have pushed for my job, I have pushed for my family and it’s taken a toll on me. LINDA COOTS: Wow! CODY COOTS: Mainly I feel like it has changed me forever. RADWA MARTIN: Cody has suffered trauma from this bite. Long-term effects, he is currently struggling on the right side of his face where the bite was initially made with double vision and a lot of visual disturbance in general. RADWA MARTIN: I don’t think Cody will ever really be back to normal. TRINA COOTS: I know Cody was in bad shape when he got bit but it was scary because dad died. LINDA COOTS: Yeah!
TRINA COOTS: But I didn’t think he was going to die like, I thought he was okay. LINDA COOTS: You fell apart in here.
TRINA COOTS: I felt weird. I don’t know how to deal if something happened to Cody because Cody is just that force that keeps you in line. CODY COOTS: We are going to see my dad’s grave. The night that he got bitten, he had been bitten so many times. That snake bit him, you know, I just figured we are going to the house and set up all night like we always did. CODY COOTS: Man, was I wrong. BIG CODY: When Jamie died at 42, they handed this Church to Little Cody at 21 years old. I think he believes that he is walking in the same pattern that his daddy did. I think he thinks he is going to die when is 42 because his daddy did when he was 42. CODY COOTS: I definitely miss him.
CODY COOTS: A little bit emotional. CODY COOTS: I guess it is part of the reason I don’t like coming up here. CODY COOTS: I know he is in a better place but I have held back the tears for… CODY COOTS: Over a year and half now, you know. CODY COOTS: Just try to go on and never said it was easy though. CODY COOTS: It didn’t hit me at the funeral. It didn’t it hit me when we buried him. It hit me three months later when things finally calm down. CODY COOTS: I was 21. CODY COOTS: Sometimes I think to myself, ‘Cod, did make a mistake?’ And I know you should never think that but there’s been times I get sorry about. I said, ‘Did you make a mistake with me having to Pastor now?’ Every other weekend, before I got bit, I was like, ‘I am tired being pastor. Like, I just want to leave and not to have deal with this no more because I do feel like I am living dad’s life and I always feel like he died young and I always feel like that I am going to die young. CODY COOTS: It was a week before I handled a snake when I got out of the hospital. CODY COOTS: It makes me nervous being around them sometimes. I am little more jumpy than what I used to be. When they strike or jerk, I jerk and I jump back out of my skin. CODY COOTS: Unless gods leave it on me I’m a little, I’m very, very scared of snakes now. BIG CODY: If Little Cody wouldn’t be taken to the hospital, he’d have probably died. His throat was closing up as fast as it was. CODY COOTS: I don’t really think I would have died if I wouldn’t went to the hospital. I mean I believe god spared me over for another day. Why? Can’t say, don’t know. LINDA COOTS: It was god’s will and that’s the way we see it. If he died, he is going to die in a hospital or not in a hospital so. CODY COOTS: Before I used to come out here and get snakes, before I would come before anybody could get here and get snakes out. And now I’d like to have somebody with me that way they can help me. I guess it’s a part being nervous. So I’ll call Big Cody and have him come down. BIG CODY: Everybody says God’s will. Taking him to the hospital, it might not have been god’s will he went to the hospital but it sure was god’s will that boy lived. Big CODY: He takes his time a little bit more when he is talking about things but he is not just jumping head into it. CODY COOTS: That’s why I don’t like not having help BOG CODY: When the snake bit him in the side of the head it drugged down and it appeared dizzy or him feel the inside of his ear with venom and it was pouring out his ear. Everytime his heart would pump it squirt like water hose. CODY: And we laugh about it now I’m not dead, could have been but that was not fun at all. I’d say some of the reasons that I got bit is because I shouldn’t have cameras in the church and I wasn’t waiting on it that like I need to. I was just handling snakes we handle them, we’ve done that so much before and you know, no one did get bit but that time it caught up to me. BIG CODY: Little Cody thinks he got bit because he let cameras back in the church. Myself I don’t believe that’s why he got bitten. BIG CODY: I think little Cody got bitten for disobedience. If it was left up to me on that I’d have cameras him church all the time. Bible talks about it being published and preached unto all the world. CODY COOTS: It’s illegal to handle snakes in the state of Kentucky but when it comes to man’s love and god’s love, so I am going to obey god’s love. BIG CODY: Will I ever stop handling serpents? BIG CODY: Whenever I’m going to die and leave this world for life where I can’t be bit and killed by one, then I’ll quit. CODY COOTS : Even through all the snakebites that I have endured seeing death, I’m never ever sat and thought about if it was different in the Bible you know, I wouldn’t have any other way. It’s my way of life. Everybody’s got a way of life they wouldn’t change. Where I have been born and raised into, it’s in my blood. Snake handling is in my blood. TRINA COOTS: I would never want Cody to stop taking up serpents. He believes what he believes. We take up serpents at dad’s funeral. It didn’t change then and we wouldn’t want to change for him either. TRINA COOTS: I don’t tell the boys. I said, ‘ if I get snake bit just take me down the hospital.’ BOG CODY: If we stopped doing every time somebody got bit, we’d never be at Church you know, people be so scared they would never carry them. RADWA MARTIN: I am fairly certain that if Cody were to be bitten by another snake at this point in his life, he would die. CODY COOTS: There is nobody that could ask me or persuade me to stop the snaking, nobody, not my kids, not my wife, not my mum. If my old daddy come back from the grave and ask me to quit I’d tell him to go back because I won’t quit. Never!