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. Robert Meadows

    Is there any way to find out if this family has health insurance to help cover her hospital expenses. It would be nice to find out if they have a place that we who were not there and didn't lose our homes and legs could assist in giving something to this family.

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

      I agree Robert. Does anyone know if there is a fund that can go directly to that family? She will need prosthetics AND lots of rehab...and even with health insurance, it will cost them lots of $, not to mention that they lost everything material. What a great woman.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Suz

      Great idea! I hope CNN will follow up and let us know how to donate to the family. God bless!

      March 7, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • camom

      yes, I'd love to know if there is any way to donate to this family. If a non-profit could channel the help to them, then people can give more too because of tax deductions and sometimes company matching. This mom is a hero. This story made me cry, I have a 3 year old and will do anything to protect them. I hope that her husband and children will support and love her through to her golden years.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Mallory Simon, CNN News blog editor

      We are trying to currently find out if there is any organization working with the family. We'll be glad to let everyone know as soon as we find out!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Mallory Simon, CNN News blog editor

      To Robert and all else who asked: We've put the information about how to help the Decker family at the top of this story. Thank you for your outpouring of support for the family.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • tlarose

      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

      March 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • BR

      Health Insurance? Did you see their house before it was demolished? It appeared to be a brand new 4000 sq ft home. You don't get to live in that type of house and not have a job that provides health insurance. I'm not trying to say that the Decker family isn't deserving and probably needs all the help they can get, but to ask if they have health insurance is a dumb question.

      March 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Briana

    What a great and also sad story at the same time. Luckily they all survived, and that woman deserves the world!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. TheGoogle

    MILF!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • tuffyturf

      Moley, Moley!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. 4commonsensenow

    A selfless act by a wonderful mother and human being.My prayers are with you.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. Simon Says

    What am amazing and miraculous story. I hope there is a fund somewhere for all of these families that lived through this.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. Come on! Really?

    What a great story of survival. Such a sad day for many.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. BrownCouch

    Next time you're having a bad day because work sucks or someone/something disappoints you, think of this woman and the sacrifice she has made for her children. I hope and pray for a speedy recovery with no set backs and for strength for her family as they take care of her when she comes home. Special blessings to her son, an upstanding citizen in the making, for braving the hail to find help, and to the neighbors who came to their aid even as their own homes were being destroyed. Like others have mentioned I really do hope some churches or local organziations step in to help. My heart goes out to all who have been affected by these storms, especially those who have lost loved ones. Peace and love from the AZ desert ♥

    March 7, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. TL

    I tell my kids everyday that there is nothing stronger than a mother's love (they try to say there's nothing stronger than a child's love for their mother, which is VERY powerful), but I truly pray they get to experience what a parents love feels like, as there is nothing stronger (Dad's included). Stephanie took a HUGE sacrafice in order to make sure her children walked out of there without a scratch, but from one mother to another, I'm positive she wouldn't have changed any of it to have her legs back! I know I wouldn't. You will be ok Stephanie – You have your family to love you through this and love can be the ultimate healer.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. Billie

    Awesome mother! Makes my heart ache to think about what she went through with her babies under her. Using ALL of her being to save them. Now, THAT is what a mother does. God bless this family and this AWESOME woman 🙂

    March 7, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. lizzett

    Amazing story! God bless all those people who are going through a hard time. Lots of love to every one:)

    March 7, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. yosemite sam

    this may sound offbeat or stupid but i was thinking that if I lived in that area, I would invest in a good condition iron claw foot tub that quality could have helped. seriously.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      It's a lot easier to be right about something after it's already happened.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. A Chicago Mom

    I have always maintained that I would step in front of a speeding train if necessary to save my son. Stephanie, you did just that. Your children are blessed to have such a loving mother. ((((((HUGS)))) and a speedy recovery to you. My heart and thoughts go out to everyone who lost loved ones in those storms.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. ddddddddddddddddd

    I would have done the same thing in a heartbeat. Good luck and god bless you.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. holly

    I'd say just call the hospital, or look them up in the phone book (411) and send them a check.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. KimP

    Stephanie, you are beauty inside and out. You deserve a medal of honor. Brave, brave woman!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Bvanman

      While it's true she deserves a meadl, I was proud of her for saying she isn't a hero...her son is! They should wipe out some speeding tickets or forgive her for something she did wrong in the past..

      March 7, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Marcy

      What a wonderful mom. To put children before herself. Nowdays it seem to be a thing of the past!!!!!!! . May God bless your family

      March 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      Marcy, God *did* bless her and her family.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
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