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. Wale

    It shows Gods' ability to secure and save.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Fn0rdz

      No, god's ability to save would be preventing the tornadoes in the first place.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. Scottish Mama

    I think Mr. Lovins (a hero) also put a belt around her legs to stop the bleeding. People helping people.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. LOW LYF


    March 7, 2012 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. cynthia


    March 7, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bill

    There is no god, it's the biggest cult scam in the world. Long live Elmo!!!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
    • lolitasmiles

      you must be having a bad day. Don't worry, God still loves you!

      March 7, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • jimmerz

      There is, but he does his best to destroy happiness to prove his love for you...

      March 7, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Hey Bill take your comments somewhere else. Why people have to bring your dumb comments into everything. What makes you think there is no god? I guess you know everything. I believe there is a god and one day you will be sorry for your words.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer Foy

      and your an idiot!!

      March 7, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • xesor

      I was brainwashed into believing in GOD when I was young and mindless, then I realized that the bible was written by ignorant men 2000 years ago who did not understand science. I also realized if I don't believe that I'm not going to that burning place that was made up around some 500 years ago to scare the flock to start coming to church and paying their money.
      I'll pray that my new God science will help this lady.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. kjs

    We keep hearing stories about mothers killing their children and so many other bad things. THIS IS HOW A MOTHER TREATS HER KIDS!!! THIS IS WHAT A MOTHER DOES!!! I was moved to tears after reading this story. The news is filled with so many terrible, awful things. The storms that hit this area were awful. What happened to Stephanie Decker was unthinkable. The love she showed to her children, priceless. I will pray for the family as they go through this trying time. God Bless You, Decker family!

    March 7, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. Abbas

    Families need to build safe heaven in their houses to save lives.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      You've never been in an F-4 or F-5, have you? There is no safe haven from these.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Thinking7

      Terry – Yes, there is – a small underground shelter.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Snap

      Working on the plans now for an underground shelter. No way do I want to be hiding in a house when one of these monster tornados hits it. Builders should build underground shelters below all houses so that you don't have to go outside to get inside.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • xesor

      Yes, let science help protect people in the future, and not their fairy God mother that everyone prays to, puts faith in, and expects him to protect them.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    Amazing story.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. Tirshata

    What a powerful story. God bless you Mrs. Decker and may your family be even closer. Powerful, powerful, powerful!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. Thenextstep

    As a MOM, this woman did EXACTLY AS EXPECTED of her. No more, No less........... I am glad to see she is gonna be okay.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Thinking7

      Definitely not the average mom. She is what a mother is supposed to do, but by far above average these days.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  11. A

    Can someone repost where to send help for this family? I can't find it, I read it on a post last night and lost it.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    Should change her name to Neal now.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  13. Renee

    God Bless and Keep the Deckers and all who lost loved one and everything they owned.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • xesor

      Not to be callus, but wasn't it her God that did this to her?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. Barry Davis

    This shows the true depth of a parents love,shielding her loved ones from harm while putting herself in peril.As for the god debate-remember god also controls the weather .

    March 7, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  15. FlaPete

    She is a miracle in itself,her strength as a mother took over shielding her children.Mrs.Decker,you are an inspiration to all parents,a beaming light in a horrible storm .Irish Blessing:May the road rise up to meet you,May the wind be always at your back,May the sunshine warm upon your face,And the rain fall soft upon your fields,And until we meet again,May God hold you in the palm of his hand...God Bless you always Mrs.Decker....

    March 7, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
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