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. Thinking7

    OMG – Crying. This mother is an amazing example to us all. If only all mothers were so loving, so caring. This world would be very different in a very good way. I will pray this mother heals the best that she can and that she will love life as difficult as it will be for her. I know her children will grow up with a love for their mother – a special love knowing how much she loves them. CNN – How can this woman and her family be helped?

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

      Also crying- how horrifying this is. That poor woman- she's amazing.
      Yes- are donations being collected?

      March 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. squawks

    And our "Christian" millionaire politicians?

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

    What an awesome mom! I wish her a good recovery and a great life.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BoldGeorge

    Not all, but most people would say, "How could God have allowed this tragedy to happen?" To that I would respond, "What tragedy? God spared an entire family that was in the middle of chaos and destruction just inches around them."

    March 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Holbrook

      Couldn't stop those horribly choppy steel beams though, could he? Or the tornado, for that matter. Wonderful fella, your god.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mpa

    God bless her

    March 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Holbrook

      Umm, I'm pretty sure that ship has sailed...

      March 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mario

    As a father of two, I applaud her effort and her sacrifice she may have lost her legs but got to keep the best two gifts god gave her. She is the kind of women who are deserving of children and he kids and husband should be happy to have her in their lives. I wish her good and fast recovery and i wish them all happy and long lives together.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lee

    A very brave woman indeed. A true meaning of the word mom. Selfless to voluntarily risk your life for the lives of your children. God Bless.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. HelpingHenryville

    For anyone looking to help this family here is how you can donate!

    FUND INFORMATION : Here's how you can help at this time.

    1) The fund is set up at Fifth Third Bank.
    2) Fund name is: "Joseph E. Decker for Benefit of Stephanie Decker"
    3) Anyone can go to any of the Fifth Third branches.
    4) Tell the teller the fund name above.
    5) They will look up the account above and make the deposit.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Badonkadonk

    She's not just tough as nails, she's solid steel to the core. Clearly it takes more than 2 tornadoes to bring this woman down.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sally

    Best mom. Best best mom.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tracey

    Stephanie Decker, YOU ARE MY HERO!!!! (Caps are intentional.) I am crying reading this story. GOOD FOR YOU!!!!! You protected and saved your babies to the Nth degree. You are incredible!!!! God bless you and your family.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. shannon

    Please, stop responding to the negative comments – you are only feeding right into what they are hoping for.
    Continue to send well wishes to this beautiful mother who is truly a hero to her children. Thinking of you and your family.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jose Cuervo

    I'm just glad Whitney Houston didn't live to see this!

    March 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Sorry everyone – I know I'm not funny – but I don't know how else to spend the countless hours that no one in real life wants to spend with me.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      I apologize. That was my evil twin Josecito. He gets out every now and then.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sharon

    What a great mom ! May she have a speedy recovery.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Thom

    You are a hero and an inspiration. May God watch over you and your family and may He comfort you as you recover in the hospital and at home. America is praying for you and your family. Bless you.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Holbrook

      Why is god watching? Does he want to cut her down a few more inches?

      March 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
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