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. Lindocielo

    I am at a loss of words... I am so saddened by what this mother has had to endure. She is truly a hero. The love of a mother is infinite

    March 6, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Honest Truth

      And she is at a loss of legs. I doubt her litter was worth it.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kris

    May you recover from this and go on to have a long and fruitful life with your family. They truly, truly are blessed to have you still with them. All the best!

    March 6, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chollaberry

    This is something that my own mother would have done. The love of a mother is a ferocious force. The children will live their lives knowing they are loved and this mother will live to watch them grow. But what a horrific thing to fight. At least they are together.

    March 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MT

    I liked this.

    March 6, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. specter

    Any mom worth her salt would do the same. you're an example to all moms the world over. Get well soon God bless

    March 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. B S

    you are my hero Mrs. Decker

    March 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RAM

    What an amazing mother. Wishing you the best recovery possible and so glad you will still be here for your kids.

    March 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. claudia alvarez

    I would like to donate money to this family. Where can I do this at?

    March 6, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. I LOVE YOU MOM

    Something to be said about the will of a mother protecting her young. So impressed by this women"s determination to protect her children and will to survive for her kids. Her husband – one lucky man to have a lady like that. GOD BLESS what a great story!

    March 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jenny huynh

    i really admire u . If i were u, i would do that. because i believe they are all the things a good mother can do. Hope u have a life with full of love..........

    March 6, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Omy

    What a mothers love can do.......... God bless this family.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AG

    Here finally is a hero! A true hero! As you rebuild your life, may the best happen to you and your family.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TexMan

    Here is an example of the real American dream at work. She was willing to do whatever was necessary to protect her family. Lots of people could learn from this if they are not too blind to see.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mary

    What a truly wonderful women! A true, true hero in every sense of the world! :). I can't even imagine what she went through.... But I know if she could endure that, everything else will be easy. I hope she has a quick recovery and feels better soon. It will be a long road to rebuild their home and lives .... But she is clearly a strong women and a wonderful mother and she'll have no teouble!. I hope many, many blessings come their way. What an inspiration! 😉

    March 6, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • sockpuppet

      I know you are trying to be positive but actually the worst is yet to come–she WILL have trouble, and it's silly to think that it's all easy from here on out. She will struggle for months just to get through the pain and rehabilitation, and years of relearning to adapt to a new type of life, as will her husband and kids as they also have to learn to adapt to her disability. Don't make light of her future and her sacrifice by saying that it will be "easy".

      March 7, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Moonbeam

    I hope there is a fund set up to help with her medical bills, prosthesis, and rehabilitation. I would contribute.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Honest Truth

      I'm in med school – will you contribute to me?

      March 6, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beth

      Stephanie Decker fund– Here's the address and contact information: Fifth Third Bank, 392 S Indiana Ave, Sellersburg, IN, 47172
      This is my hometown, though I am now living out of state. Just devastating. Stephanie Decker is a true hero. May God give her healing.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
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