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. susie

    Mother of the year.... wow!

    March 7, 2012 at 2:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Michael Busky

    Many things happen in this life that at times, we begin to ask 'why would God allow this?'. A man in the bible got blind from birth,and when Jesus was asked the cause of his blindness, he said 'this man did not sin,nor did his parents. This was done in order that the name of God would be glorified'. God is lovely and merciful. On daily basis, He tries to show us how much he loves us.
    It does not mean tha t the woman was very strong,God never wanted any harm to come to the kids that is why he kept the mother alive so that she could sheild them. May the name of the Lord be praised. Amen

    March 7, 2012 at 3:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • schatzi

      Thank you Michael for those intelligent and truthful words of wisdom.....God Bless :0)

      March 7, 2012 at 3:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      How does everything have to involve a god?

      March 7, 2012 at 4:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Amal Tuffin

      What a great loving mother who didn't think twice to offer this sacrifice to her own precious kids, I will do the same if I had too. I am a mother of 3 beloved kids and I would put my life as price for their life. I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will heal her physical pain caused by losing some of her body's parts. I am really proud of her. She will always be reminded by her family, friends and relatives with the great sacrifice she gave will bring her honour and pride for the rest of her life. I wish that she can be awarded. Great love and sacrifice will make the entire world change. I am really happy that we have one and only Great God Jesus Christ who shows his love to us every minute we live on this earth.
      Amal Tuffin, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

      March 7, 2012 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
    • PL

      Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. Please don't get those two mixed up and blame God for Satan's doings.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • annie

      it does not mean that the woman was strong? I'm not sure what article you just read, but the one I read stated that this woman VOLUNTARILY laid on top of her children to protect them from debris flying around their destroyed home, and consequently she lost both legs but was able to save her children. this woman is obviously stronger than you will ever realize. and i pray that God gives you some insight.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Bohemer

      Send an inquiry to god@heaven.org...Be forewarned though, these days God's answering some many emails that some of his/her work had to be subcontracted back to Earth to save on operating costs.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. schatzi

    Yes!!! THANK GOD!!! she and her children are alive!!! Our God! BB is Your God too!!! Otherwise, you would not be able to take a breath to talk against him like you are.....He (GOD) is the creator of LIFE, and everything living and breathing!!! Do you think that just POOF! you came to be? Get real and think about it awhile with the incrediable brain that God put in your head! And as far as Honest Truth! You are discusting!!!! A woman braved a storm to save herself and her children and you feel that you have the right to share your filthyness with the world on this site! Get a life and share your filth among people that are in your own little circle of life and might care!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fn0rdz

      Thank god? Seriously? You're like the slave that thanks their master for killing their entire family but sparing their life after a severe beating instead. Sick.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Common sense

      "Thank God"? Seriously? This woman did one of the most heroic things I have heard of in some time, suffered the loss of her legs for it, and you think we should thank God?? I don't know if that is more ignorant or just plain insulting to the woman's sacrifice and bravery.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alia outrey

    God saw to it that her love be fulfilled...that her babies were saved. I respect her and hope i would be as strong to make it through all the furniture, walls and other structures which fell on her back. Stll, like her love, her will and strength of spirit did not break. I shall never forget her story, and if i must die tragically one day, may I hope to die so valiantly, out of love to save the lives of others.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fn0rdz

      Yeah, god couldn't wait to make her suffer horribly. How "inspiring".

      March 7, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • xesor

      Maybe they were not praying hard enough? Maybe God was overwhelmed with prayers at the moment from everyone else in her town.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • LostMyLegsInVietnam

      why are religious people so willing to die for others lol, anywho god wanted to kill her kids who were probably going to be future hitlers....what has she done!!!!!

      March 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Penny Farmer

    To Honest Truth: The honest truth is you need INTENSE psychiatric therapy! I pray to God that you get help.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nick

      How did this blog turn into religious nonsense invoking a god and putting words and thoughts out there. How about this woman was brave, caring, and did what any mother should do? Storms happen.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Renee

      SHE said SHE prayed...you may not believe in God now...OH BUT YOU WILL SOME DAY!

      March 7, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • FlaPete

      Renee,most ignorant people don't believe,till its too late.God goes about his business,tending to his flock,he'll look down and protect Mrs.Decker.She's like most of us,I myself a stage 4 cancer survivor,believe there's a light no matter how dark it is around you.Thanks Renew for believing....

      March 7, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • FlaPete

      Sorry Renee for the miskey....

      March 7, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • yoyoystupid

      yes GOD created a tornado so you could save your kids an loose your legs, and other die to while he is tending to his flocks. Must be blessed to believe in such pagan rituals.........

      March 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saddened

      What an incredibly idiotic comment. Must every comment forum end up being a faith-bashing session? Your nickname just about says it all.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Fn0rdz

      What an ignorant thing to say. You may as well say "You don't believe in the Cookie Monster now.... OH BUT YOU WILL SOME DAY!"

      March 7, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • smiley

      Well, good luck with that Cookie Monster thing at the end of your life, dude! Hope it works out for ya!

      March 7, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Common sense

      Cookie Monster? Blasphemy! All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster, our TRUE lord and savior. May he wipe out the Cookie Monsterologists and all other false faiths!

      March 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bvanman

      That is a terrible thing to say! I have ALWAYS believed in the cookie monster! It's that darn guy who lives in the trash can I am weary about!

      March 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ira Radnick

      Oh no I won't, ever. Been there done that, then opened my eyes and saw the fantasy world within all religions. Nope, fool me once, shame on y'all. Fool me again, well, it ain't gonna happen again so there is no sense in me going further.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bohemer

      Maybe when the technology advances and space travelers spot God the Cosmos and snap a picture of it..Then we'll believe, perhaps...

      March 8, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Resa Garrett

      There are no atheists in a foxhole.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • alumette

      I would think that when you hear that noise like a freight train coming at you and you hide in your bathtub, you likely pray whether you belong to an organized religion or not. Whether you believe in whom we call God, or the cosmic energy or you believe in nothing at all, my guess is that you pray to someone or something even if you are a self proclaimed atheist. There are those moments when we are so vulnerable and helpless that nothing makes any sense. Humans have their weaknesses and it's OK to seek divine intervention.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • smiley

      Hmmm, Let's see now...last time I checked, we had the right to "put words and thoughts out there." It's called "freedom of speech." Yes, this woman was brave, strong, and did what any PERSON should do. That she has faith, as many of us do, and would like to share that fact, is perfectly up to her. She's not telling you that you need to do the same. If you don't like that we have this right here, I recommend that you go live elsewhere (where, by the way, you probably would NOT have the right to express YOURself.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. david lulasa

    she truely put some resistance..but a tornado is so huge than a gangster..thank GOD she has motivated me with this story..GOD has a bigger plan for her.

    obama barack

    March 7, 2012 at 4:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Ayaosi Marcus

    Thank God...for everything is for a reason ..that she is alive is indeed a miracle

    March 7, 2012 at 5:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. the tornado

    God just picks and chooses huh? Im sure the other people who died wanted to live as much as her and fought as hard. No it was the tornado who was God that day. Its all a game of chance. touching story though.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe Max Moore

      Your atheism is sad. :(

      March 7, 2012 at 6:30 am | Report abuse |
  9. David

    This woman is a hero no matter how you look at it. How lucky her children are to have her as a mother.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bvanman

      Yeah and think of the Jesus ponts she has now! She could probably kill a homeles person and be OK to get into heaven anyway! And, oh, the guilt trips she can lay down on the kids some day. "Mom, I really need a new bike" "Yeah, well I used to be able to ride a bike...unti lI saved your life!" LOL

      March 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pamik

    Stephanie, you are a beautiful woman. You may not believe it right now, but your body will heal and the nightmare of this event will be replaced by the future you have with your loving husband and children. Your children are alive because of you. To be able to have them walk away with no injuries is a miracle. You took the brunt of the storms for them. A mother's love and protecion know no bounds. Best wishes to you during your recovery.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Nick

    This is a free country. People are free to believe and free not to believe. Although one side may think their beliefs are the correct ones, and everyone who is not ontheir bandwagon is wrong, there is no one right answer. Did God protect those children? We'll never know. Was it simply a roll of the dice? again, we'll never know. Lets just all agree to disagree and consider the simple fact that three people are still alive and that is the main thing! This lady although injured, still has the chance to see her kids grow up. The children have the chance to live a full life. That's all that matters now.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. edwoodjr

    "Thank God"? I guess it is something to think about as they survived but she is going to have a long road of suffering and rehab sans legs so............ And what about the other 40 or so folks that God apparently didn't feel like helping? Oh yeah, wait, it was their "time". They always say if it's your ti,e to go it's your time to go, I just hope I'm not on a small plane when it's the pilots time because then I'm just "along for the ride".

    March 7, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Elena

    Her action made me be moved to tears.May God bless her!

    March 7, 2012 at 6:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Mary

    Now all the good christians should pray that her legs grow back.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Tom

    I cannot say if there was a God involved in this. I can say that a loving mother did her best to save her children at the sacrifice of herself. Maybe God was working through her, maybe she is just a shining example of what a good human being and a great mother is supposed to be. Let's just give her credit for the hero and inspiration she is.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
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