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. Duane

    You are an amazing lady!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jim

    Finally CNN finds someone truly deserving of the term "hero". She knew going in that she might well lose her life (or worse) and didn't even hesitate. I hope her life will turn to roses and sunshine for the remainder of her years. She certainly deserves it!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • New Era

      I agree, what this lady did is an act of a true hero. The courage she had to protect her children was amazing to me. Whoever thinks what she did was stupid should be ashamed of themselves.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Leanna

    Aw, shucks, Jose. I'm already spoken for!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Story of my life. Oh well. It's for the best. I'm already having an affair with that guy's mom.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmericansCare

      Jose – Real men keep their brains in their skulls.

      Little men [in EVERY way] brag. It's all they've got!
      Jose – you live alone, fat, pimples, no girlfriends???? I'm right aren't I you pathetic little twerp.

      Thil page is for a HERO not for a nobody looking for notice. Have some respect!

      March 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Traci

    You are definitely an inspiration. I too would do anything to save my children. God Bless.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Terri

    Ma'am I think you are the most awesome woman in the world. You are a true hero, may God bless you!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Willowspring

    What a courageous woman! She saved her children, then made a message of love to her husband and children on a cell phone in case she didn't make it. God bless her and her family.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. LEE

    May God Bless you and your family. Your children and husband are so blessed to have you. You are an amazing lady!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brandon

    Jose for troll president!! Comedic genius.

    That being said – this is an amazing story about one amazing lady.. I wish her a speedy recovery. =)

    March 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mom to mom

    This is a courageous lady! Bless you!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anthony

    Incredible to hear – makes you think how lucky you are that you don't have to go through this.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jose Cuervo

    Now that she only has one leg, will she change her name to Eileen? Just curious.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Duncan

    So sorry this happened to your family – your selfless sacrifice for your children is the stuff movies are made of.... You are a true hero!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. A Mom

    God Bless you! My prayers are with you and your family. You are a wonderful example of a Mother!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Stuart

    What a heroic, selfless mom!!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kendall

    Wow. Amazing story. Amazing mom. Thank goodness kids are okay.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
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