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. Arj

    I had lost my leg more than a decade ago. I assure in these days with very good artificial legs available, it is not a too difficult thing. If someone reads this who can reach her, Please convey it to her. I wish you a speedy recovery...

    March 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dani

    God bless you and your family. What a courageous woman she is. You are an inspiration!

    March 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |

    I strugle to control my tears.I wish Iam in the U.S to give a helping hand. I love this woman.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fogolabs

    She is an angel, a guardian angel.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Her own guardian angel must have been sniffing glue or he would have saved her.

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

    This woman is great. Her family is lucky to have her in their lives, and may her children live long and happy lives. I know that I would have done the very same for my kids...... I just can't help but wonder how many mothers out there would not have done such a thing.
    God speed Stephanie Decker!

    March 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. gaucho420

    Holy cow, what a story. She is one hell of a mother, and an even stronger woman. You are a prime example of how to lead in a time of crisis, unselfishly, and utterly brave.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Christy

    Stephanie Decker, you are the epitome of Mom. May your children never forget the love and the sacrifice you have made to keep them safe. May your husband cherish you more everday for the heroic, selfless act you did saving your children. God bless you and your family.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sandhya

    Words cannot describe the Love that a Mother has for her child! beautiful mother with a beautiful soul. God bless you, your kids and u'r entire family. Your kids will be soooo proud of you.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jose Cuervo

    Relax, people. She didn't "lose" her legs. She knws where they are; they're just not so...attached.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brian S

    Simply an uplifting story! God Bless you and your family. I wish nothing but the best and a speedy recovery.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Deena

    Sorry I even wasted my time getting on this site with all the God bashers and some idiot who calls himself the same as good tequila. Nothing good about that sicko. God bashers will find out for themselves one day.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Meh. I like Don Julio better.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |

    God is with her. she will live see beter days, good life, healthy home and GOD fearing children. i wish her husband and kids will always be by her side.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Holbrook

      "God Fearing?" I'd guess so. If my deity blew down my house, cut off my Mom's legs, and almost killed me and my sister, I'd fear the sunuvabltch too. The only people who deserve credit in this story are just that: people. The bravery and devotion and love are all coming from humans. The only thing your god sent was devastation.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      What do you think god was saying to her while he was with her? I think it was ....

      "Hey Stephanie... Hey Stephanie... check out what I can do with this weather..."
      /twirl's fingers
      "Isn't that the coo... hey wake up Stephanie."

      Ya, God is a d–k that way.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Just because your insurance company calls a tornado an "act of God" doesn't make it so. I hope you don't believe everything an insurer tells you. In the words of Jesus: "An enemy has done this".

      March 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don Lester

      She is the true meaning of the word "HERO." What a brave person. God bless you and your family.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Atanu

    II pray for your complete recovery. You are a hero and would remain as glaring star for others to know what motherhood means. Thanks.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Holbrook

      "Complete recovery" might be hard to pray for, what with the missing limbs and all. Does your god do missing limbs anymore? I don't think he does. Maybe you could skip the prayer and send a few bucks for prosthetic limbs.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. guslvnv

    Fantastic lady and Mom!

    March 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. barb2012

    Where are our "Christian" millionaires who could so help in these traumas?

    March 6, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinking7

      Actually, I hadn't even read your post when I had already asked if there was some way people could help. I am sure there are many who will offer their help.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
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