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. Jess

    This story brought tears to my eyes. This woman was selfless and full of love. God is amazing.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just stop it

      God is amazing? Really? Tornadoes are considered an 'act of god,' how dare you give credit for this woman's selfless actions to save her children to a 'god.'
      This momma is amazing and deserves all the credit. No god lost its legs, only this brave woman.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • spart301

      God is amazing.????? You're kidding right?.....God is the one that did this to the lady......God was trying to kill her and her kids.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yessup

      God is amazing. He took both of her legs. It's funny how you only look at something in a way that supports your beliefs. This is an amazing story and woman. But she did it. Not some made up god who would injure her just to be gracious and save her...

      March 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • blackice

      What does God have to do with it?

      I'm pretty sure natural instincts are what drove the Mother to protect her children...and yes, it is was a great act of courage and should be applauded. We don't need to bring religion into it.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Hey, lay off God. He's a busy guy, what with all the wars and natural disasters He causes. Besised, he saved half of her. What more do you want???

      March 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. New Era

    Forget superman this lady is amazing!!!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Not really. Superman can stop speeding bullets. This broad couldn't even handle a little wind.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Maria

    God bless you and your family!! Glad you are all alive and safe ... You are an amazing strong mom and woman to be able to do that ... It is true what they say about women for their children and families they will stop a bullet ... Good luck to you and your kids. May god bless you and watch over you ...

    March 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. danny

    they can't re attach her legs?

    March 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carawaigh

      Too badly damaged.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. avi

    A true hero!!! God bless her and the Kids. Thank god the Kids are safe.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. itnobars

    As a new mom, I hope I have as much courage and strength to do what she did (I also hope that such a situation never comes up). She symbolizes what motherhood is all about, sacrifice....

    March 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Estrada

    Reading this story brought me to tears. My prayers are with this courageous mother and children.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jose Cuervo

    I wonder if her favorite song is ZZ Topp's "Legs"?

    March 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • trh

      Why are things like you allowed to post????

      March 6, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carawaigh

      Reporting you again. Enjoy your banning.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Keep reporting me! I'll keep coming back...and back...But one serious question: she has one leg, right? So, she can get a job at IHOP.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. spart301

    what a mom........super mom ever!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Erin

    Nothing makes you realize just what you are capable of like motherhood. What an amazing story.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      And diarrhea. You never know how fast you can run until you get the Aztec two step.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Amazing

    God bless you and your lovely family. Be blessed.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cindy

    When is CNN going to do away with these comment sections as they are mostly filled by digusting crappy people who say the most hurtful and disgusting stuff. CNN you should be shamed, remove these boards altogether they are occupied in many cases by the dregs of society.

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

      If they are abusive, report the comments as abuse. Repeat as necessary.
      Fortunately, I see far more positive, supportive responses on this thread than nasty and stupid ones.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • linda

      It is certain that the dregs of society are out there and chomping at the bit to comment on anything in order to justify their sorry existence, however, most of the comments posted on this story are compassionate and supportive. The comment sections of CNN or any other news outlet are used, hopefully, to encourage discussion and understanding and to enlighten the "dregs of society" that life goes on around the rocks they live under. We don't need to censor the "dregs" as they have an invaluable lesson to teach us NOT to be.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. cherryrn

    This is a Mother who is an example to everyone what a Mother should should. God Bless your family.

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


      March 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      Agree. What a great story!

      March 6, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. matt houston

    May your children grow up to make you proud.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Amy Maletic

    Kudos to this woman, this story was very touching!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
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