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. Bvanman

    It's sad and haapy all in one! With all of the stories about worthless parents blowing up their kids, leaving their babies unattended while drinking's great to hear a story of a real parent! Wander if she is more of the norm?

    March 7, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      I was thinking the same exact thing!

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

      It's a shame that bad news sells better than good news. It's a testament to the type of people we have become...

      March 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sam

    All we see on the news these days are how mothers hurt there kids in one way or another. Its nice for a change to see something like this for a change, a mother doing what all mothers should do putting there kids first. Loved this and wish her the best of luck on healing.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. m. Portland

    Mother Nature V. Natural Mother. Mommy wins!!!!!

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

      She'll never be the same, but she would have been alot worse off if she didn't save them.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      Bvanman, of course she'll be the same!! She lost PART of both legs. With all the prosthetics that will be available to her, she'll be walking – and then running – again in no time. This was a terrible injury, but she will heal and, with prosthetics, she'll be up and around again. This is obviously one brave, tough woman. I see no sign of quitter in her.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. t3chsupport

    The praying thing is nice and all, but... you guys have to know that many of the people dead were devout, good people, who were praying their heads off while their deity destroyed them in a horrific manner, also probably trying to protect their loved ones. If prayer didn't save them, why would it save her? It's like it insinuates that god saved her but didn't care about the prayers of the others. Religion doesn't make any sense if you think about it too much.

    March 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Every persons name is writen in a book, when its your time to go, you go, it doesn't matter if you are a priest or a criminal, when its your time its your time!! God has a plan for us all! prayer cleans the soul, you can't expect God to answer every prayer to save everyone, we would all be immortal.

      March 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Common sense

      I get a kick out of the people that thank God for saving her and the kids. Yeah.....if that is the case, he ALSO destroyed her home, ripped her legs off, and nearly killed her and the kids. Or did the "devil" do that part?

      March 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      So this is GOD's fault? Since when does God control the weather? Tragedies happen every single day. Speaking ONLY for myself, I believe God grieves right along with us. He is there to give comfort when we seek it. For those who have faith, no explanation is necessary; for those who don't, no explanation is possible.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Common sense

    "Thank God"? Seriously? This woman did one of the most heroic things I have heard of in some time, suffered the loss of her legs for it, and you think we should thank God?? I don't know if that is more ignorant or just plain insulting to the woman's sacrifice and bravery.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. denim

    That is a proper parent.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KW

    A hoosier hero!

    March 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Duane

    We hear so much about parents abusing and killing their kids and then we hear of heroic tales such as this. Although I am saddened she lost so much, she did what all of us as parents should do and that is protect our children from the harm of the world. I would hope and like to think faced in the same situation I would gladly lay my life down for my kids and grandkids.
    I hope more people see her as an example of what being a parent means.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Drinker

    This story actually brought tears to my eyes. What a great and strong mom.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ryan

    This is a heartbreaking story because of her injuries but at the same time a heartwarming story that she was willing to sacrifice herself for her kids. However, my question, and yes it is sort of political, is, where is the President? Why hasn't he made some sort of comment or made a trip out to visit these places? Or is he too busy campaigning and defending law students? Is he going to offer government assistance to all the victims here?

    March 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. hutch

    Way to go Mom! I hope and pray that your kids grow up to do outstanding and wonderful things and make a difference in this world. And I hope your chest burst with pride as you watch them grow into teenagers and adults. So you hang in there and I'm praying for a speedy recovery for you.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Micki302

    That's a real mom right there! She did what many of would have done for our children. I pray she makes a full recovery and that she's soon up and around on brand new legs. Her children deserve nothing less.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sissy

    I've been thinking about tornado-proof house designs. Remember that tornados up-root trees and pick up cars and trucks. The 100 plus mpr wind is moving lots heavy debris. Each piece of debris works as a battering ram against everything in it's path. Imagine a log truck crashing into a building at 100 plus mph. Now, think about a building built inside a solid, low hill. A log truck going 100 mph would drive up and over it. The home could be partially lit by solar tubes fit with storm covers. I like the claw-foot steel tub idea, too. I'd get two for each person. Put them in the basement.Bolt them together like a coffin and save lives.I've heard of two people taking refuge in a tub during a torndo. Usually, the top person is injured or killed. A high water table is a problem in some areas. A large plastic tank with safe ceiling vents and a suitable roof installed below ground could save lives.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • janey

      there's a house in my hometown built into the base of a hill. i bet that guy could give you some pointers

      March 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jackie the Jokeman Marlow

    Q: What do you call a woman with no legs?
    A: Nothing, she can't come when you call her anyway.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Probably not the right venue for this tastless joke...

      March 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • MLC Peoria

      What an insensitive jerk.....

      March 7, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ana soto

    wow she is reallllllyyy brave

    March 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
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