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. Cherry

    This made me cry. Such bravery. God bless her.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ajay.

    Great lady indeed. A great Human being! She deserves national valour award from President. I bow to her bravery and salute her. God is great who saved her and her children.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Honest Truth

      What a stupid idea.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • justbeachy

      What a sad but wonderful story. God Bless her!

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

      A three story home on her back! That's a Woman! Definitely there were angels helping.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BIG "G"

    lovely josie

    March 6, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rachel Greenberg

    That's the momma bear in us. We protect our kids at our own risk – no matter what.

    This family is truly blessed that they are all ok. What an incredible miracle.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mary

    This is what a real mother does..
    She lost her legs and kept her kids.. Most Mothers would agree.. It was worth the trade off..
    Hope she recovers quickly..

    March 6, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Honest Truth

      Newflash! She WON'T recover quickly – she LOST HER DAMN LEGS!!!

      March 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • D.

      "Honest Truth" I would rather lose my kids than my legs. This woman will eventually recover from the loss of her legs. She would NEVER recover form the loss of her children. You clearly aren't a parent...

      March 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel Greenberg

      I totally agree with you.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BIG "G"

    Josie, I want to devote more than this blog to you. Wanna come and play?

    March 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brian

    If I was her husband, I would piggy back her every day of her life if I had to. Ofcourse, we have this modern invention called prosthetics. But I'm just saying. At least breakfast in bed for life.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • awm

      Best response yet!!!

      March 6, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kathy

    Honest Truth: Apparently you landed on this planet as an adult. You have also obviously had a difficult life. You have my sympathy.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. awm

    Honest Truth, do you reap enjoyment from being an ugly troll?

    March 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. hawk

    ignore "honest truth"

    March 6, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Honest Truth

    What's the matter CNN? Are my comments too honest?
    You should all have been aborted! HAAAAAHHAAA!

    March 6, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FifthGeneration

    That is a MOM, in the truest sense of that word. Many blessings on that family as they walk this new Path.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. leeintulsa

    @honest truth: maybe her life doesn't suck. mine doesn't.. sounds like a personal problem..

    March 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Aart

    Stephanie deserves the biggest medal in the world. You are a true here.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Justme

    @Jubril: Having lived in countries where brick and stone are used in construction, I can tell you that there is nothing more dangerous during a natural disaster that a multi-ton brick wall falling on you (ask firefighters, its a common problem during fires). I really doubt that homes in England are more safe than houses built in the U. S. That said, congratulations to this family for having survived the tornado and I am sure that the husband is amazingly grateful he chose her for a wife!!!!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
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