Veteran snake-handling pastor dies of rattler bite

Associated Press Published: May 31, 2012

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia preacher who handled snakes for years to prove faith in God has died of what witnesses say was a timber rattler's bite.

Mark Randall "Mack" Wolford was a pastor at Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka. A photographer and a relative tell media outlets the bite occurred during a service at Panther State Forest.

He died Monday at Bluefield Regional Medical Center.

Neither the hospital nor a funeral home handling arrangements would confirm the cause of death, and relatives didn't return phone or email messages Thursday.

Hospital spokeswoman Becky Ritter says federal privacy laws prevent her from releasing additional information. Officials at Cravens-Shires Funeral Home, meanwhile, said Wolford's family had asked that the cause of death be withheld.

The state medical examiner refused comment.


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