March 6th, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Indiana mom loses legs saving kids from tornado

[Updated Wednesday, March 7] After we reported on the story of Stephanie Decker, an Indiana mother who shielded her two children from tornadoes and lost her two legs after being pinned by her collapsing house, CNN received an outpouring of support from readers and viewers asking how they could help.

Some wanted to know if they could help pay for her medical bills, others wanted to wish her well, and others hoped to help her and her children because of Decker's act of bravery.

The family has set up The Stephanie Decker Fund and all donations will be sent directly to them.

Donations can be sent to the following address:

Fifth Third Bank

392 S. Indiana Avenue

Sellersburg, IN 47172

Make payable to: The Stephanie Decker Fund

Any questions can be directed to the Sellersburg location at (812) 246-0982 or the Fifth Third Bank Marketing offices at (502) 562-5355.]

You can also lend your help to all of the victims of the recent tornado outbreak by visiting CNN's Impact Your World page, which has various resources and ways to help.

[Posted Tuesday, March 6] A woman in Indiana lost part of both of her legs as she shielded her children from two tornadoes that slammed into their home.

Stephanie Decker was at home Friday when her husband texted her that a tornado was hurtling directly toward their three-story home in Henryville, Indiana.

Just minutes before the tornado swept through, Decker and her young son and daughter huddled in the basement. She covered them with a blanket to try to shield them from debris.

"I was reaching around, holding them and trying to keep everything away from them so it wouldn't hit 'em," Stephanie Decker told CNN affiliate WLKY.

The wreckage broke seven of her ribs and almost completely severed both of her legs.

"I had two steel beams on my legs, and I couldn't move. I was stuck," she told WLKY.

Then, another storm came roaring through. She again covered her children the best she could, taking the brunt of the debris as her home collapsed around her.

Joe Decker said his wife relayed some of the horror on an iPad, because when he first saw her, she was on a ventilator and unable to speak, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

As the storm rolled through, Stephanie Decker told her husband, she turned and saw a large piece of debris begin to collapse. She pulled her daughter away just before it came crumbling down, according to the newspaper.

"She just kind of grabbed her and turned," Joe Decker told the Courier Journal. "She doesn't remember anything after that."

"Everything started hitting my back. Beams, pillars, furniture. Everything was just slamming into my back. But I had my children in the blanket, and I was on top of them, and I was reaching around holding them," Stephanie Decker told CNN affiliate WTHR. "And they are screaming, 'Mommy, I can't live without you! I don't want to die! Please don't let me die!' And I said, 'You're not going to die. We're going to make it.' "

The storm passed, and Decker looked around to see her home was gone.

"(I) looked at my leg and realized either it was cut off or it was barely attached," she told WTHR. "I took my phone, and I made a video to my husband, telling him that I love him."

She wasn't sure whether she would survive or how they might escape since they were trapped by the weight of their home.

Her 8-year-old son was able to climb out of the debris, run through the remaining hail and search for help.

Her neighbors, including Brian Lovins, a Clark County sheriff’s officer, came to their rescue, though their homes were being torn apart at the same time.

Lovins was able to use a tourniquet to stanch the bleeding until an ambulance could take her to a hospital.

The children walked away without a scratch.

Despite the loss of part of Stephanie Decker's legs, her husband said, he tried to tell his wife the fact that everyone lived is a miracle in itself.

“What I told her was, ‘You’re alive, and you get to see your kids grow up,’ ” Joe Decker said. “If you look in the basement, there’s no way anybody should have lived, let alone two kids who don’t have a scratch on them.”

soundoff (695 Responses)
  1. anna

    Get well soon Stephanie, you deserve all the happiness and with todays technoligy you will be up and about in no time.

    Get well soon.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. alliroG

    Amazing story of courage and heroism.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hectorious

    Wow, God bless her she is truly unselfish and a Hero

    March 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scott

    China can keep their tiger moms, the U.S. has Hoosier moms.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christine

      Clap, clap, clap!! Your comment is awesome:)

      March 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • TROLLOLOLO

      Tiger moms are piece of C RA P Chinese ladies who want to look good. They dont do it for their kids. They do it for themselves...and to look good in front of the rest of the family...pathetic slime balls.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      For Trollololo...the first five letters of your name say it best. You must watch a lot of tv and movies if the only Chinese women you know of think only of their looks. Those women do not even compare with the millions of caring, loving, and thoughtful Chinese families there are in the world.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • kel

      Amen from another proud Hoosier mom!

      March 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JC

    I am a recent first time mom and am just beginning to understand the special bond between a mother and her children and what being a mom is all about. You have taken my definition of a good mother to a whole new level. God bless and honor you for your sacrifice for your children.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. brandybuck

    Your children will bless you forever.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Wow

    She deserves Mom of the lifetime award. So many great stories of self sacrafice, this is what I expect of the human race. So many times all we hear on the news is the rotten side of humanity.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Any Mom

    Beautiful story, that's what a mother does, protect her children. She just did what she had to do, she could not do otherwise, her most primal instincts kicked in. I wish people would stop using the world "hero" over and over. She would be a hero had she saved the lives of people she did not know, that's what a hero does. That guy is so lucky to still have his whole family.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marissa

      She might not be a hero to you, but she's a hero to her children, and that's all that matters.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • mag

      Did you read the story of a young mom that killed her toddler daughter with her bra??? Sick of hearing from "mothers" who murder their children. This woman is a hero and is a great example of how a mother suppose to behave.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Are you for real? She is a hero and almost gave her life to save her children. Look up the word hero in the dictionary...1. a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities. 2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal. Where does it say that it has to be a person outside ones family? Get real, Any Mom!

      March 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Jealous? Or bitter?

      March 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • zrxgrim

      Casey Anthony begs to differ....

      March 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Peter

    You are my HERO !!!!!!!! God bless you and your family.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. marcia

    Wow –this is how everyone would like to think their Mother would do for them. I hope she gets to see not just her children grow up, but her grandchildren, too. Amazing!

    March 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. palintwit

    Stephanie Decker = HERO
    Sarah Palin = ZERO

    March 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      You ARE a twit. Do you really have to bring politics into this?

      March 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • kel

      Can we leave politics out of this? Please just this one time. Lets honor the worman and forget the difference of our voting. I am a mom first and a Republican second. Nothing will ever come before my 3 children. After reading this story political beliefes seem kind of trivial at this point. God bless this mother and her family. Maybe we as Christians should contact a local church down there to adopt a family in need and work to help the family survive and recover.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. deborah griswold

    god will be there you are what a loving mother is god bless u and family

    March 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • seandaniels

      The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.

      March 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bob Parker

    Stephanie Decker, you rock! No legs? No problem. You will overcome that too! Best wishes!

    March 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • kel

      Correct. A woman this strong can do anything. But I challenge all of us to reach out to one of the religious organizations in Southern Indiana and help these families. Come on churches lets step up and adopt a family and help them to rebuilt their lives and let them know they are loved. The different religious organizations can work with local churches to help those most in need.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Erwin

    This is one wonderful and great Mom. Always your kids remaind that moment as a present of life from you to your kids. YPU ARE A TRUE HERO

    March 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. johnnythunder

    She made a major mistake and was on the wrong side of the basement. Always get to the side closest to the direction the tornado is coming!!

    March 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • frankie borrero

      Shut up! It's easy to make assessements like that without being in the situation!

      March 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      And you know exactly where she was...how? Did it occur to you that she was on the 'right' side of the basement? Or that the 'right' side of the basement was inaccessible?

      March 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deana

      In an emergency situation....how on earth was she to know what direction it was coming? Really...Give her some credit!!!!! What a great parent!! My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family!!!!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Really Jersey

      Did you read the story? There were 2 tornadoes. The second one made the debris collapse. There probably WAS no safe zone in that basement! The important thing was the way she shielded the most precious things to her...her children. Not a scratch on them. Good job by a good mom!

      March 8, 2012 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
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