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. Emily

    Wow, now that is a true hero.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chrissie

    Stephanie Decker...YOU are a REAL mom... Your actions define a mothers love. Your strength is awe inspiring. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Linda

    God bless this mother and her children!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Proud of you

    M'am, you are are a treasure. You will live long and have your children and (someday) grandchildren because of your actions. Heal and be well.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Leanna

    Jose, You crack me up. Not exactly tasteful, but you're hilarious. Ever thought of writing for South Park? Family Guy?

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

      Leanna, will you be my bride? I promise you I will always be faithful and never separate you from your legs. I do.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ieat

    Stephanie Decker. You are the mom of the year. Your husband and children are very blessed to have you in their lives.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cathy

    As a mother this is what we do no matter what at any cost protect our kids. All that matters to her family is that she is still there to hold and kiss and see all the special times her kids will have as they grow up. Thats all that matters and she can still live a happy life. God bless her and he did she is still here.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matt

    Mrs. Decker is the MOM of the year. Even better, she is the greatest mom of this decade by sacrificing herself for keeping her kids safe.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Harley883

    Now that is the kind of Mom every child should have. I hope Stephanie and her family physically and emotionally heal as quickly as possible.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Colin

    "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."

    I have nothing but sympathy for this family, but a miracle? Oh come on! The net effect is they lost their home and she lost a leg. What is "miraculous" about that. As usual, when the totality of facts are taken into account, "miracles" turn out to be nothing more than people ignoring the downside of a set of facts, focusing solely on the "good" and calling the quarantined "good" a miracle. A CEO might as well ignore the liability side of his balance sheet and declare it a “miracle” that his company just doubled in value.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jay

    You are a true hero! Get well soon!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jose Cuervo

    Thank God she'll live to see her childrens' weddings. But wow is that mother-of-the-bride spotlight dance going to be awkward...

    March 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joeymom

    Ma'm, God bless you and your family, and know my family are thinking of you. You saved your children. You did it. Thank you.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Semper fi

    We salute you! I hope someone donates to you all your prosthetic needs.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. casey

    That is amazing.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
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