A 24-year-old U.S. Army veteran fighting for his life in a California hospital got more bad news last week after his family’s home was burglarized while his pregnant wife sat at his bedside.
Adrian and Jessica Ortega, of Mountain View, learned of the burglary Thursday, as they were in the intensive care unit of Kaiser Permanente, according to CBS News 8 in San Diego. The burglary happened as Adrian Ortega recovered from surgery to remove cancer from several organs.
Police officials confirmed that a report has been filed, but details of the case were not available, the news station said.
The young veteran was diagnosed over the summer with stage 4 testicular cancer, as well as stomach cancer, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help the family with bills. Last week's surgery was required because the cancer had spread, CBS News 8 reported.
Three days after Ortega’s surgery, the couple got word of the burglary. According to the news station, the thieves stole a 2006 Acura RSX, personal documents -- including the veteran’s Army badges -- and cash, clothes and all the family’s Christmas presents.
"To come home and it's all gone," Jessica Ortega said. "I know that stuff is replaceable, but he has worked so hard.
“They took our social security cards, both birth certificates, personal papers. They took our kids’ toys. Who does that? Our babies are left with nothing.”
The thieves also took Adrian Ortega’s chemotherapy drugs, as well as the diapers the couple had stocked up on for their new baby. Jessica Ortega is eight months pregnant.
Since CBS News 8 reported on the burglary over the weekend, the San Diego community has stepped up to help the family. Adrian Ortega also received a visit Saturday from Chopper the Biker Dog, a Boston terrier who visits people throughout the city -- on his own little motorcycle -- to bring smiles to their faces.
"As I was able to provide some comfort and #ChopperLove to this soldier and his family, I know it's not enough," a post on Chopper's Facebook page read. "Please, if you are able to help in any way, please visit the GoFundMe page that was set up for Adrian. Anything will help. Please share. My dad was nearly in tears today as he was hearing the story told by Adrian's wife. Heartbreaking!"
The news story and Chopper’s plea seem to have worked, with the couple receiving donations, as well as letters and nearly 100 emails of prayer and support from area residents.
"Having people be so sweet and nice, it restored our faith in humanity," Jessica Ortega told CBS News 8.
In a message to the San Diego community, Adrian Ortega said, "Hello everyone. My name Adrian Ortega. I know I am not in the greatest condition right now, but eventually I will get there and that is with everyone's help."
Police officers located Adrian's stolen Acura Monday morning, the news station said. Though no arrests have been made in the burglary, the Ortegas hope the recovery of the car can offer evidence or leads.
They hope Adrian can go home by the end of the week to celebrate Christmas with their children, ages 4 and 2. The children have been staying with relatives during his hospital stint.
Anyone wishing to help the Ortega family can do so through Adrian's GoFundMe page or contact Jessica Ortega directly at Jestolen11@yahoo.com.
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