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. Lobo

    God bless you, no matter what a mothers love is beyond measure. Your country men and women will come to your aid. The men who came to her aid Well Done your homes where being destroyed but you went to help. Now your country will come to your aid.

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

    You are truly a hero to your children. I can't stop thinking of what you went through. May god bless you!!!

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

    This woman is the true meaning of a Mother!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robards

    Mom, baseball, and apple pie. American as can be.
    Mrs. Stephanie Decker gets the mom of the year award from us, but she gets the mom of a lifetime award from her children and husband. Mrs. Decker, get well soon. Enjoy your family. You certainly earned it.
    Mr. Decker obviously married a person who is of great class and strong character.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vicki

    God bless you Stephanie, Nothing is more precious than our children and what you have saved through your love is far greater than what you have lost! God will reward you for your sacrifice.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Victor

    No greater love than a mother's.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mr. sardonicus

    wow, lady...wish the world was filled with people like you...

    March 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ana

    I feel so happy for you and your kids! God bless you all!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. A Mom too

    You are a wonderful Mother and I am sure you wouldn't change what you had to do. May God Bless You and your family.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Iris

    An amazing woman. My prayers are with her and her family.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. cj7

    Good Moms would do anything to save their kids. I admire her strength and determination, in the face of total utter destruction.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Devoted daughter

    My dad, may he rest in peace, lost both legs above knee, during WWII. He was a shining example of a great father. To me, he had magic legs. Go Stephanie - continue to be strong mama that you are! My thoughts and his strength are with you.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CaliMom

    I am speechless and filled with emotions. You're a true hero. God bless you and your family.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jose Cuervo

    I sure hope someone gives this woman a hand around the house. Wait, a hand isn't what she needs...

    March 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • jaintn

      Well aren't you just the most amusing little POS around.......... One can only hope you meet a similar fate some day. I can't think of anyone more deserving.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • adriana


      March 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • trh

      Things like you should be sterilized

      March 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deena

      What a heartless jerk you are! One can only hope we hear about your demise very soon-then what fun we can poke at you. Have never heard anything so stupid in my life.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • CaliMom

      So sad – Get a life Jose – Only a real human being would understand slightest of the pain this Mom and her family are feeling. She is a trooper.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Pain? She's not in any pain. She's on morphone drips. Lucky little sniffer!

      March 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dan

    Mrs. Decker,
    Do not despair over your injury. It is horrific, however like your husband said "you get to see your children grow up". It was the price that had to be paid so that they would grow up. You are as brave as any decorated soldier. You willingly put yourself between danger and your children. If you ever had any doubt in yourself, you should have it no longer. I salute you! If I am ever faced with a similar situation I hope that I perform as well as you have.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
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