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. Talkic Social

    She's a hero! Hope she recovers strongly.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Emartlock

    Stephanie you are amazing. You are the epitome of a "Momma Bear". It makes my heart swell when I think of the sacrifice you made without consideration for yourself to protect your babies. You TRULEY are a HERO. Get well soon and best wishes. Love, emartlock

    March 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dr Paul

    Please post a link where we can donate. This woman is a HERO! God bless her and her family.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scones

    Kids are expensive. They cost an arm and a leg. Or in this case, two legs.

    Remorseless humor aside, this gal is one hell of a hero. Id give her a standing ovation.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Needz

    mama..u r best..where ever u are..u r best

    March 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mikey

    She was a good mom. Toughest job in the world, even without a two tornadoes trying to kill you. Her husband said it best. She gets to see her kids grow up. Not much else to say.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Leonard Washington

    U/R what a real Hero is to me! Very, Very Happy that u and your kids survived......

    March 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tim

    Stephanie I only hope I woulld have the same courage and presence of mind you did. By putting yourself in harms way and in such peril you saved your children's life. I wish you a speedy recovery.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hubert

    Your kids sound really young, but one day they will realize the sacrifice you made for them. The word hero is thrown around pretty freely these days, but you really are a hero.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. U.S.Army-OverLord

    Exactly this type of courage needs to be held in the highest respect. She is a true hero.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Deborah

    Bless you Stephanie. We are all so proud of you. May you have long wonderful years watching those children grow.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. longtooth

    This is one wonderful lady. Her family is lucky to have her, and she's lucky to have them. Hope she comes through this OK. It's good to hear stories of love and courage, of family over self. There's still plenty of great people out there!

    March 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pop CHEESE

    Starting to see GREAT DEPRESSION how the technology and medical science is moving slow.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. palintwit

    We have heros like Stephanie and zeros like Palin.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cat

    What a great mother. Those children are lucky to have her.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
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