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. sdgman

    She's a hero... this is heartbreaking!

    March 6, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John Penner

    This is a true example of the infinite depth of a mother's love. It is so sad that Mrs. Decker lost parts of both legs but at least her life was spared so that she can continue to enjoy raising the children that she obviously puts before anything. There should be a picture of this lady next to the definition of the word "hero" in the dictionary.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. scranton

    Simply amazing woman and mother. Parents become superhuman when defending their children.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Born in the mid-90s

    My mum is really frail and can't move easily... But I know if my brother and I were in trouble, she'd find a way to do the same. Mothers like Mrs. Decker are an inspiration. I don't think I would be a good mother, but I aspire to be as noble, strong and selfless as one. It really is so inspiring.
    Remember, girls; any of us can have a baby, but only the strong can be called 'mom'. 🙂

    March 6, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. uKnewit2

    they failed to print the whole story here , this lady went to the school and demanded that her kids be released to her , agenst the warnning from school officials , if she had stayed at school she and her kids would have been safe along with the forty plus kids and teachers ther at the safe place in the school building ; shes just that her stupid act didnt kill her and the kids.....

    March 6, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. / Through a Scanner, Darkly /

    @uknewit2 , Hindsight is Golden. Guess her Crystal Ball was on the fritz!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bitterarewe?

    She's not a psychic or weatherman. She made a wrong move, so sue her. The fact that she lost her own legs is a testament to her character as good mother. You on the other hand just made doosh bag of the day..

    March 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sasmith

    Finally a mother protecting her children instead of hurting them, I am so sick of reading about parent harming their children, this lady is a REAL mother and a REAL hero, god bless her.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. czar33

    GOD BLESS YOU! You are a GREAT Mom. I wish you all of the best. You are in are prayers.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Linnyboo

    Well I wish them the best all my love goes too her

    March 6, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Myriam Gomez

    Incredible story she is an inspiration. I am very proud of this mom. She is a real hero and wonderful mother.

    March 6, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Linnyboo

    That is truely a miracle all my love goes too them I wish them the best

    March 6, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jogtah

    I'm surprised that not many people are talking about constructing buildings that are more likely to withstand natural disasters. With all due respect to religious beliefs, it's better construction that is likely to save you. Faith keeps us strong, reinforced construction can help keep us alive and mitigate loss of lives and injuries like Stephanie's. That said,
    Stephanie is a great mom and a very good woman.

    March 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jimzcarz

    In tears..But from the sounds of it she won't let anything stop her. Get well Stephanie ...
    San Jose

    March 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Really Jersey

    What sheer determination! Those children are truly blessed, in having a mother who stood fast & held on to them in the face of 2 tornadoes despite grave injuries. I salute her courage & tenacity!

    March 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
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