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News

Former Marine's Prosthetic Leg, Truck Stolen From Knott's Berry Farm

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Juan Fernandez's prosthetic leg was in his truck at the time it was stolen from a parking lot. (Photo courtesy NBC via Twitter)
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A man who had his truck and his prosthetic leg stolen while he was at Knott's Berry Farm says never mind about the truck, but he's devastated about the loss of his leg.

Juan Hernandez, 53, has been forced to use a wheelchair after someone stole his prosthetic leg, which was in the backseat of his truck. "My life has stopped. It's like being crippled again," he told ABC News.

Hernandez, who lost his leg to gang violence, spent the day at Knott's Berry Farm with his wife and grandchildren on May 26. When they returned to the parking lot, their 2007 Chevy Silverado was gone and with it, his leg.

The former Marine said he was just getting his life back and had started going to the gym and was able to help out with everyday chores.

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"With my leg, I felt like I was almost 100 percent," said Hernandez. "Whoever did it, please have a heart."

The family says no questions will be asked for the return of the prosthetic. "He needs his leg. We wouldn't say anything. Just return it," said Carmen Hernandez.

The prosthetic leg was custom-fitted to Hernandez and valued between $30,000 and $50,000. It was a gift last year after his story aired on America's Most Wanted. He was nearly killed in 2010 after trying to stop taggers in his Santa Ana neighborhood.

Police say Jose Berruette, a 24-year-old gang member, deliberately ran over Hernandez again and again.

"He had no remorse after he ran over our victim. [Hernandez] got stuck on the wall. He kept driving back and forth, back and forth. Our victim was extremely lucky to be alive," said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna with the Santa Ana Police Department.

Police continue their search for Berruette, who may also be going by the name Luis Avila. He may travel between Mexicali and Orange County and may be slimmer than what he looks like in photos released by authorities. He was described as 6 feet 2 inches tall and 220 pounds.

Anyone with information about the stolen prosthetic or about Berruette's whereabouts can leave anonymous tips by calling Orange County Crime Stoppers, (855) TIP-OCCS or (855) 847-6227.