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. Name*carol

    That's an amazing story and a true miracle. Blessings to you. Moms are the best and sacrificial when it comes to their children. You are truly an amazing woman. xoxo

    March 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cyclope

    My hero.

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

    God bless this family, and especially this young woman who is the greatest example of love beyond love! I pray you will heal and find so many things that you can continue to do despite the injuries and loss of your legs. God has a tremendous plan for you – and I feel sure that your children will be forever your heartbeats...

    March 6, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Melanie Tharnish

    Bless You Precious ONE!!! I am soo Proud of you from one Mother to another Mother! Sending Healing Light & Love Your way Precious One!!! XOXOXO
    Many Blessings~
    Rev. Melanie Tharnish

    March 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ChrkeePrde

    What an awesome mom! God Bless her.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sunny Murchison

    This lady's maternal love for her children to whom she gave life and brought into this world goes well beyond any courageous act of love, loyalty and sacrifice. No words to describe this stellar woman. Beyond the scope of heroism!

    March 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. C

    There is nothing stronger than love. I wish you and your family all the best! When times get tough remember there are a lot of people rooting for you!

    March 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. **cosmicVox *

    This is the same disgusting troll. It even writes fan letters to itself. Pay no attention.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Crocker's Common Sense

    A sad story for all involved. I would move the hell out of that part of the country and never return.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Loss of Fetus

    Sorry about your legs. At least we won't have to mourn the loss of any fetus younger than 28 weeks. We mourn the loss of life and limb, not losing clusters of growing matter. Thought you knew that.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Caribbean

    Reinforced concrete homes resist fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and termites. Build better different homes

    March 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Maribel

    I can only say, that she is a HERO. She saved her kids with her own hands. Prayers to you for a fast recovery, blessings for your kids. G

    March 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Caribbean

    And I mean masonry block filled with steel is reinforced concrete. The bricks against frame is worthless.and dangerous. Americans will keep dying and losing legs until American build wiser homes.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nikki

    You are a true hero and a wonderful Mother. Too bad the world isn't full of Mother's like you. Would be a better place.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jogtah

    If building were well constructed there would be less loss of life and fewer injuries when natural disasters strike. We need better codes, legislation and enforcement.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kris Lukings

      you don't know what you are talking about.

      March 6, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • nc

      What a compassionate soul you are...

      March 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • AL

      Sorry to say the homes are now made with the cheapest material we can create with. We dont build for the long term anymore.

      March 6, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dusty

      They lived in a two story brick home with basement less than ten years old...this was a high end F4 tornado. Unless you are in an underground cellar then you are fair game...unless you live in this area you have no idea the wrath that this tornado had...

      March 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • senordave

      I agree, your stance is one of compassion indeed, but don't let the naysayers dissuade you. We could easily build tornado proof homes in areas that are prone to tornadoes, but do not. Hundreds, maybe thousands of lives could be saved at the expense of a 20-30% increase in home price, but builders insist on their right to build houses that cannot withstand tornadoes in order to save some money. This woman is truly a hero and I wept reading this article. However, the tears are meaningless without the impetus for change so that more souls are not sacrificed to natural disaster in the name of cheap building codes.

      We don't build houses with straw roofs for a reason, and we don't use asbestos insulation for a reason. Why build houses in tornado alley that can't withstand a tornado? It makes no sense. Kudos to you for seeking a long term solution to what is becoming an annual event in this country.

      March 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
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