Family Points Finger at Cops After Man Dies in Snowstorm

Family of Jacob Whaley, 34, says Louisa County Sheriff's Office in Va. could've done more to find him
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2022 7:41 AM CST
Dad Found Dead 3 Days After Car Got Stuck in Snowstorm
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/LeManna)

The body of a Virginia dad whose vehicle got stuck in a snowstorm has been found, and his family is now demanding answers from local law enforcement as to why he wasn't rescued in time. As motorists in the state were stranded in severe winter weather last week on I-95 near Fredericksburg, 34-year-old Jacob Whaley was having his own problems in Hanover County, where his car slid into a ditch on Monday evening about 6 miles from his home in Louisa County, per WTVR. WRIC posts a timeline of what happened next, including messages from Whaley to his family that he was going to try to walk home. "He got out of his car because he wanted to go home and ... see his dogs and his son," his sister, Angela Whaley, tells WTVR.

Jacob Whaley's last text was at 8:45pm to his mother, noting he was lost in the 17-degree weather. Whaley's family says they contacted the Louisa County Sheriff's Office and told them Whaley was wandering somewhere near Greene's Corner Road, and the sheriff's office says that it "immediately responded" to that notification, checking the area along that street and other roads leading to his home, per the New York Times. The Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office joined in the search and located Whaley's truck the next morning on Mount Olive Road in Hanover County, near the Spotsylvania County border. It wasn't until Thursday that a search party made up of law enforcement and volunteers found Whaley's body in a "very dense pine plantation" about 200 yards off Greene's Corner Road, the area where the family had first noted he might be.

In an email to the Times, a spokesman for the Louisa County Sheriff's Office says the roads were "impassable" and the power in the area was completely knocked out, and that a police search team did what it could to find Whaley but "had a hard time getting through." Whaley's family, however, is furious. "All they had to do was go out and holler for him," his mother, Shannon Whaley, tells WRIC. Sister Angela Whaley adds: "Louisa County let him freeze to death." Supporters of Whaley's family protested in front of the sheriff's office on Saturday, per WRIC. Whaley leaves behind a 2-year-old son, also named Jacob. "They were best friends," Angela Whaley tells WTVR. "How do you tell a 2-year-old that his dad is never going to see him again?" (More Virginia stories.)

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