Man dies after being bitten while handling snake during Bell County church service

A knot of snakes being held  during a West Virgina church service.
A knot of snakes being held during a West Virgina church service. LEXINGTON HERALD LEADER

A man died after being bitten by a snake he had been handling during a church service in Bell County on Sunday.

John David Brock, 60, of Stoney Fork, was bitten on the left arm while handling the snake at Mossy Simpson Pentecostal Church in Jenson, according to the state police.

Brock refused medical treatment and went to his brother's home, where he died.

Bell County Coroner Jay Steele said he pronounced Brock dead at the home of his brother Bobby Brock in the Kettle Island community at 4:25 p.m. Sunday.

Steele said an investigation into the incident is continuing.

"We're still looking into the medical history," he said. "He had some extenuating circumstances that may have contributed."

A man who answered the telephone at Bobby Brock's residence Tuesday afternoon declined to comment.

John David Brock had worked as a coal miner for 36 years, according to his obituary.

There have been several other cases in Bell County of people dying after being bitten by snakes used in religious services.

The most recent was in February 2014, when Jamie Coots, 42, pastor at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, was bitten by a rattlesnake during a church service and later died at his home after his family refused medical treatment.

In March 1995, Kale Saylor, 77, a longtime Pentecostal preacher, died after he was bitten on the right hand by a rattlesnake at a church in Crockett where he was preaching. Saylor's first wife, Jean, died in December 1967 after being bitten by a rattlesnake in Bell County.

In December 1997, Daril R. Collins, 23, died after being bitten during a service in Bell County. Collins attended the church where Saylor had been pastor.

In August 1995, Melinda Brown, 28, of Parrotsville, Tenn., died after she was bitten on the arm by a large rattlesnake at Coots' church. Brown refused medical treatment and died at Coots' home, where other believers took her after the bite.

Three years later, her husband, John Wayne "Punkin" Brown, 34, died after being bitten by a rattlesnake he was handling during a church service in northeast Alabama.

Funeral services for Brock will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Stoney Fork Holiness Church. Arnett & Steel Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.