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Dad walked through the snowstorm to be with his son. He never made it.

Posted at 4:42 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-08 16:13:55-05

LOUISA COUNTY, Va. — Jacob Whaley and his son, Jacob Dawson, had a bond like no other.

“They adored each other. They were best friends, and he was two and he was 34,” Whaley’s sister Angela said. “How do you tell a two-year-old that his dad is never going to see him again?”

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Whaley’s family told CBS 6 around 8:30 p.m. Monday, the 34-year-old’s car slid into a ditch in Hanover County during the snowstorm.

The location where his abandoned car was found was near the line Hanover County shares with both Spotsylvania and Louisa counties.

Shortly after, they said they notified the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office after Whaley’s cell phone showed his last known location on Greenes Corner Road in Louisa.

“He was trying to find a path through the woods because there is a neighborhood that he lives that he could’ve gotten to and walked right across the street and been able to get home,” Angela said.

Angela Whaley said her brother wanted to get home to his dogs and his son, but the temperature dropped to 17 degrees that night and Whaley’s phone battery was almost empty.

Whaley was about six miles from home when he started walking.

“He got out to walk because the power is out. He couldn’t see houses or street names. His phone was only on 14 percent when he started to walk. He got lost. He wasn’t that far from the house,” Angela said.

Thursday night, a search party found the man dead more than 200 yards in the woods off Greenes Corner Road.

Both Hanover and Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Offices told CBS 6 their deputies searched for Whaley but were only able to search within their jurisdiction.

Louisa Sheriff Donnie Lowe said his deputies also searched for the missing man over several days and joined the search party.

“I walked for seven hours on Wednesday looking for my brother,” Angela said.

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Strangers joined in the search for the man who Angela said always had a smile on his face and would give a stranger the shirt off his back.

“Family members and civilians who didn’t even know my brother,” she said. “They went into the shop, and he helped them with their cars. These were people who maybe didn’t know him at all that were willing to look for him.”

Sadly, Whaley’s family knows heartbreak well. Their brother, James, died in a car accident back in 2000.

“I had to hear my dad scream because he lost another child,” Angela said.

Now, this sister holds onto the good memories.

“ I would just make sure he knows I loved him,” Angela said.

The Whaley family set up a fundraiser for two-year-old Jacob Dawson. Funeral arrangements are not yet finalized.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.