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. Teresa

    What a hero! Mrs. Decker is a brave woman and Mother, an inspiration to everyone! I pray that she will recover quickly and have a very happy life.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kylie

    god bless this women! she is truly a hero.! i wish the best for her recovery & Her family!! i almost started bawling when she was saying how she made a video saying that she loved her husband and her childrren I aam so glad she Survived God Bless her!!!.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hal

    She is a hero in my book.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Which book is that? Did Oprah recommend it?

      March 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Get it? I'm still using Oprah jokes from 2002 even though it's 2012. Hahaha... I'm so witty.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mrs. B

    Wow. I can only hope that I'm at least half the mother that Mrs. Stephanie Decker is. God bless you and your family- you are AMAZING and your children are so fortunate to have a mother that would risk her life for them. I can't wait to go home and hug my son tonight.

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

    Hi, everyone. I know it's hard reading what individuals like Jose Cuervo writes, and you want to tell him off, but remember he is an internet troll. For this troll, being the center of attention is the only thing he craves, and he's willing to do it by any means necessary. Out of place comments, unfunny jokes, and talking nonstop are some of the tactics he will use to rip away your attention from the important issue. Many reacted with anger and annoyance, and flung back some logic or insults, but those will not work. By reacting to him, you give him what he craves: attention. Don't give him the power by giving him the attention. Instead, pity him, ignore him, and hope that he finds the thing that will fill that empty void in him. Stay on topic. Focus on positive opinions, and let your words empower others to do greater things. Stephanie Decker, you're truly a courageous and loving mother.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Thank you for devoting an entire post to me! It's a little odd that you tell everyone not to give me attention while giving me so much attention, though, isn't it? Just a question. Anyway, what are you wearing?

      March 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caps Lock

      I took a bullet for you everyone 😛

      March 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brian Holbrook

    Enough with all of the "God bless her." If your deity was going to bless her he could have decided to do it before he knocked down her house, almost killed her children, and cut off her freakin legs. I think that family has already put up with enough guff from him, don't you? Maybe we should just say that we wish this wonderfully brave wife and mother the fastest possible recovery.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • cstarr146

      Bitter much? Whether you believe in a higher power or not, what business is it of yours if these people want to say God bless to Stephanie? Their wishes are obviously sent with good intentions and I think it's really petty of you to try and take away from that.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Holbrook

      What business is it of yours to question what business it is of mine? I challenge religion and religiosity. It's sort of my thing. Welcome to the Internet.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Christian Bengel

    If there was a national "Medal of Honor" for courage and sacrifice, she would certainly deserve it! Wow! I'm humbled.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. raeschell franklin

    what a wouderful mother!!!!!!!!!my god bless you always!!!!!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Naina

    Back in 2006 on September 16, my son and I were caught right in the eye of a tornado in Rogers, Minnesota. We were returning from a birtday party at 9:45 in the night...not realzing that it was a tornado we entered right into it. Belive me..it is something no one has experienced in thier life. We got hit by the front end then got pinned int he eye of the tornado and then got hit agian by the beack end. Changed our lives in a second. This was a tornado that formed without warning. It was simply unbeleivable. I had to protect him to make sure that he was safe. I can understand the agony of a mother and the presence of mind one should have. My hats off to her...God Bless you. Ask me and my son..what it is to be inside a 1/2 mile long tornado...sitting in a car.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      What was it like being in a car in the middle of a tornado, i can only imagine but i'm curious about the sound it made and if you were sucked up in it? Etc, P.S. you are some brave souls to survive that.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Unni

    Mrs. Decker, you are just amazing. You are very brave and great mother. I do not whether I can do what you did to save your child if this happens to me... I am very proud of you. I will prey for your speedy recover.

    all the best

    March 6, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unni

      I mean I do not whether I can do what you did to save your kids.. If this happens to me

      March 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jen

    god bless 8) you are an amazing mother!!! and true hero!!

    March 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. abby in Texas

    our hearts and prayers are with her and her family. God bless her for her heroic efforts.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jose Cuervo

    Time to go. It's been fun getting all the outrage from the bleeding hearts. See you when the next fuzzy wuzzy story is posted about some stranger you really don't care about but rush to vomit fake good wishes to!

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

      Jose – Thanks for leaving. That's the first useful thing you've done for a while.

      For all you WONDERFUL people with decency and humanity who send Blessings and praise for a hero, YOU are true AMERICANS. Jose – who is one chromosome removed from a potato, is now back in his trailer shovelling chips in his mouth. [at least THAT\ll keep him quiet!!!!]

      March 6, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • doodlebug

      Jose I feel very sorry for you. We are all in this together. We may not know her, or her children but we feel the courage in her heart, and the great loss she has suffered.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      You're a disgrace to humanity.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jane

    This is a true parent. I hope and pray that her husband and children as wella as others always remain loyal to her and give her all the support she needs to go on in life and be happy.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe mohnacs

      Jane I think she will stay strong! And they wil take care of her.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Daph1

    Well done! You are an amazing person!

    March 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
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