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. Roy in Texas

    This shows that a mother will do anything for her children. God bless you – you're a living angel.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe mohnacs

      Roy i just hope things go well for her and the family! Take care.

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

      Amen to that Roy. Lovely post.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ann west

    🔴 I hope she gets all the support she needs. Please Get Well.! Tell us where to Donate!!!⭕

    March 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. just a friend .

    May God bless this family, and all others that lost everything, ad their loved ones. God Bless you all.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jim johnson

    Amazing mom. A true hero.

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

    Brought tears to my eyes. She's amazing.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RAN

    She committed a selfless act. A heroic act. And is suffering for it. But to ask God to bless her? Or to thank God? Didn't God create the tornado? Or did Satan? Well, at the very least, God could have stopped the tornado...or turned it away from that town. But maybe God wanted her to save her kids....and lose her legs.....has this been a fulfillment of God's will? Well whatever. I just hope her insurance company doesn't screw her over.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • doodlebug

      RAN – God give us freewill and does not interfere. It is our decisions and indecisions to make. I can only hope that in the future there are methods to better predict and alert persons to impending tornadoes and maybe one day, a method to thin them before they cause so much devastation and harm. RAN – the idea is to lead the best life we can, be good to each other, understanding and know that we must face any and all tragedies, and continue walking on – either together or alone. But we must continue on. It is futile to ask the why's and quote the if only's – and in the end, speculation is .. empty.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pagan

    And here we are led to believe women and children need a male protector. It seems to me mom was more than enough.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jubril

    When i had a visitor from London, he looked at the houses we have here in the US and told me that in London they don't allow these type of houses, That houses had to be built using brick and not the type of cheap plastics that is being used here in the states. The government has to set standards , now people might say that by Govt setting standards smells Big Government but in reality this unfortunate lady will likely need govt support in the future and setting building standards like making sure that 75% of a house is built with brick will ensure that this can be prevented in the future

    March 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lolly

    The true definition of mom. Your kids are so lucky to have such an amazing, selfless, courageous woman for a mother!

    March 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. percysmama

    What an amazing woman. She is the definition of MOTHER. she h!as two very lucky children to have such a great mom.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BIG "G"

    oh josie youre cute

    March 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rasty

    Why is this news? A mother protecting her children. WOW.
    We use the term hero so often it means nothing anymore.
    Hero should be reserved for truly selfless acts.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mom of 2

      Unbelievable when the news every day is full of so called moms who beat, starve, sell, and even kill their own children?! Its great to hear a mom who did what she should do, protect and put her children first! Amazing courage and may the rest of her life be filled with love and hugs from those children

      March 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hannah

      You are so right

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

      It's people like you that really make this world suck...

      March 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rasty

      Yep absolutely right. I expect mothers and fathers to protect their children ... Amazing. Can anyone on this forum truly say they would have not done the same?

      March 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • nereida

      I think what she did counts as a selfless act,even if they were her kids. Selfless is when you put yourself last and guard others with your own life.....even if they're family. You lack sensitivity.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • ofCanada

      You're just baiting for outrage, Rasty. You know damn well that this story is needed in the news if just to show the public there are really good parents out there.

      But to answer your question: I think that the heroes we imagine ourselves being to our children or others is only the ideal. In any given situation like this, parents fail either partially or completely to do that extra thing that protects their young—especially if they've never been shown how to do it right by reading stories like this. You aren't necessarily the brave and selfless parent you envision, sitting in the comfort of your room at a computer. Nobody knows until they are tested. Anybody who claims to know is a braggart and a liar.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • JennyBreeze

      Of course good moms aren't news, but good moms who live through a scene out of Twister or The Day After Tomorrow are one in a million. When was the last time you shielded two children from a tornado and ended up losing your legs? Not so much, huh?

      March 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Riley Wolff

    Well done, Beautiful Mom.
    Well done.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MomOfFive

    Good Bless you and your family. I am so sorry for your injuries and pray for you, Mrs. Decker.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BIG "G"

    HEY josie, doya know why they call me BIG "G"?.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29