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. AB

    Amazing woman, amazing mom... . Stephanie Decker selflessly fought for and saved her children. You are a hero!

    March 8, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. rats live on no evil star

    she is a true survivor... she didnt sit and pray that some miracle came and saved her and her children... she did it herself at a costly price...however it is a true badge of courage she wears and will have for the rest of her life... i wish i could meet you Mrs. Decker and i wish i could do more to help... and on a side note... god didnt give her anything...SHE risked her life SHE sacrifed herself for her children SHE did it HER self...dont give credit where it is NOT due

    March 8, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • JC

      GOD bless you Stephanie Decker! And HE certainly did! HE gave you the strength, courage, and love to protect your children, just as HE gave you and your children life in the first place. May HE continue watch over you and guide you.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • nick

      Actually, her mom and dad had intercourse, which gave her life.

      March 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim p.

      "And HE certainly did! HE gave you the strength, courage, and love to protect your children"

      Maybe next time "he" can hold the **** beams up so she did not have to pay for her love and her children with her legs.

      There was no miracle. There was a human mother, williung to die to save her children. No gods, no jesus, only one human doing everything in her power to protect those she loved.

      *That* is the true miracle, not come fake god who shows up afterwards and takes all the credit but did none of the work.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • vb30

      I feel sorry for you people that think we are nothing more than sludge evolved. Not only is there a God, but there is also an enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy, and it seems he has been pretty successful in your lives to make you so bitter and hateful toward God. My God have mercy on you.

      March 9, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • cs

      We all know the truth! God had his hands on them and spared these lives.Think what you want but her laying on the kids wouldn't save them if the whole house fell on them. Thank you Jesus for sparring these lives.

      March 11, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • ChrisYaNeighbor

      what nonsense. God? God did nothing. A woman defied odds to save her children. God sat back and ate popcorn while her legs were sheared off.

      March 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. pamela

    you are amazing for what u did :>)

    March 8, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • ImpishLisa

      Yep. She is. This woman is an example of what a mother is and should be.
      "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
      All people are our 'friend's, whether you believe in God or not. Just like the guy trying to save the lady from a Carjacking, and the stranger that takes a bullet for a battered woman,this is what being a hero is about..

      The world is full of crap, but people still shock us at times with their ability to look outward instead of inward. Lately I have been more introspective about MY impact on the world. Thank you, ma'am, for inspiring me to more patience, more kindness and more consideration. You're piling up rewards in where it matters, I am sure. Your kids are very blessed.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Len

    I have to agree that I am weary to call this woman a hero. I call her lucky. The family is going to need lots of help and this woman is going to be traumatized for the rest of her life due to these injuries. These kids are going to also be terrified. Mother nature is a dangerous beast and reminds how dangerous she can, even when we take precautionary measures.

    Just...please don't call this woman a hero. She did what hundreds, if not thousands, of women do for their children. The people who are heroes are the rescuers, medical professionals, and volunteers who are helping in these areas. We should be giving them just as much coverage! This woman wouldn't be alive if it wasn't the man who made the tourniquet and went to help her – even while his house was being destroyed!

    March 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • alumette

      True...true...she did what all mothers would do. It is unfortunate her legs got injured but lucky that sweet man made a tourniquet with his belt and kept her from bleeding to death. Overall, she is very lucky. She has a long road to recovery but she is young enough that she should be able to handle prostheses, eventually. We see many military survivors do wonderful things with bilateral running marathons. She is alive to see her boys grow up !

      March 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kim

    People like you make me sick with your horrible comments. I detect a little bit of jealousy on your part for this woman getting the attention she deserves. Find something better to do with your time!

    March 8, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jo Gordon

    It's a shame of all the hate in this post over a woman who lost more than most of you have. You all appear ungrateful for the blessings you possess whether you believe in a creator or not. You all should be ashamed and unhappy about the life you have. Grow up people.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Zosh

    They should have storm shelters built into homes and especially Trailers. which are very vulnrable

    March 8, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zosh

      I meant vulnerable sorry

      March 8, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • alumette

      The family in question lived in a large brick home. Nothing is left of it. We really need to build underground shelters in the tornado alley region. No one is safe, especially the people who live in trailers...they have no protection at all, but if an F4 hits, everyone is fair game; it picked up a school bus...that gives us an idea of the wind velocity. Really scary. Anyone who survives through these things is very lucky.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JuJu

    God Bless this Mother. Of all the horrendous stories of child abuse, this woman is truly God's blessing to her children. May God keep all Mothers like Stephanie Decker on this Earth and wipe out the rest.

    March 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. upekkha, SL

    a mom's love z unmeasurable & so selfless.the best example.god bless u!!!!!!

    March 14, 2012 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dan Toma

    I don't know these people, but I cried just reading this story.

    March 18, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
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