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. Radgast


    March 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Drunkin Mom

    I hope her legs turn up

    March 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BIG "G"

    WHERE ya at, josie curvo. I GOT something good for u. wanna get 2gether?

    March 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ringo

    Wow,and wow again!! This wonderful woman is indeed the very definition of the word MOTHER,and I have no doubt that decent,caring people everywhere will rally to her aid,for whatever she and her little ones will need in the difficult days to come.And by the way,I have no doubt the chlidrens'father would have done the exact same thing.God bless them all,and the rescuers too!!

    March 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BIG "G"

    I GUESS i scared josie away......

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

    Only questions is why would you text your wife that a killer Tornado is barreling towards you? How about a phone call daddy!!!!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Zakia103

    Heard her interview on CNN & it's amazing she has such an upbeat spirit about all that has happened to her and her family. I can't imagine going through something like that. My prayers to her and all the people who have suffered so much with these horrible storms.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BIG "G"

    oh josie, you wanna come out and play?.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mick

    I am in awe of you Ms. Decker. Your courage in the face of such terror. I am in tears as I read of your courage. I will pray for you and your family.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. fred

    Wow what a brave mommy. I hope she will vote repuplican

    March 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. joe

    kids on the beat kids on the dtreet beat kidz beat kidz

    March 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    What a story.
    I wish her and her family the very best.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brian

    God Bless her. Only a loving mother would even do this.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. I Believe

    When our congressman say they deserve a pension after serving only one term with health benefits,

    We should throw them in that tornado, how many would have the courage to do what this mother did. I believe none of our US congressman would save anyone else other than themselves.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Honest Truth

    The sad part of this story is those miserable little brats will grow up, move away & never care for her when she's dying in a convalecent hospital. The husband will divorce her for someone with legs. Her life will always cursed so her dumb brats get to live perfect lives. How unjust is this? Why should she be happy to live as a cripple? And the brats walk away without a scratch? Why is it that everyone cares more about brats than adults when adults are the ones who contribute to society. Kids are just leaches.

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

      You're a riot, yes those leaches will grow up into civilized humans... like you? Perhaps a different story, the man who is a genuine man stays with her and helps her learn to walk again with prostetics. The children, forever changed by their mother's selfless act, become missionaries and doctors who better the world far more than some cynical bored waste of space, typing hatred and pessimism on the internet.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • awm

      Wow.....bitter much? Nice to know you can predict her future. Let me take a crack at predicting yours. You are alone and miserable. You are alone because you are miserable. You will die alone because you are miserable. Any family you have – spouse or kids – should stay far far away from them so you can not infect them with your misery!

      March 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • mary

      Don't worry.. If your kids are teens they grow up and things usually get better..~! 🙂
      If not then I feel sorry for you.. Society has went down hill. But it really doesn't matter to a "real mother".. They are glad they saved their children's lives.. Cause mothers love their kids.. Even if the kids don't love them back..
      Thats what has kept the human race going.. The love most parents feel for their kids..

      March 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • D.

      What a horrible thing to say. Shame on you for judging a family you don't even know.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • MK Waterson

      Shame on you, you miserable butthead. What she did for her kids was what any mother should do. I'm sorry that your mother probably wouldn't have done it for you.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa Manor

      What a sad and sadistic and lonely person you are. I am so sorry for you and whatever happened to you in your life to say what you said. You are obviously crying out for help.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suzanne

      So- you were one of those miserable little brats I presume? They all start somewhere.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
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