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. Ted Nugent


    March 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ted Nugent

    She should give herself a standing ovation.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nisroc

      and so should we

      March 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • retphxfire

      What makes people think its funny to make a joke out of others misfortune? Its NOT funny, but considering you use 'ted nugent' I'm not surprised its from you.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zoglet

      Why aren't more people aren't praising her acheivement? Frankly Im stumped!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • sonic10158

      let's chop off your legs and watch you try it

      March 7, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. pauljack

    Now this is what a real mother looks like and how a real mother acts. Bravo dear lady.......

    March 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Angie

    You know what is sad about this? You people flipping crap at each other and using this story to make it all about yourselves! This woman survived a horrific event, saved her two kids, and was comforted by her faith. Instead of slamming the beliefs of other people, why not just respect that we all have our own beliefs. This goes for the Christains, atheists, Budhists, Muslims, and anyone else out there. Nice way to be self-centered jerks.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Older Sista

    God Himself says that to unbelievers, the preaching of the Gospel is foolishness. Unless you were raised in a Christian home, it was foolishness to all of us too before we were born again. That's just the way it is. Jesus says that in THIS world we're gonna have s+it happen....tribulations. Physical, spiritual......we don't live in a bell jar, our kids get cancer, our homes get swept away by wind and water....but He stays with us and helps us through it all and we KNOW this is all fleeting....that's why He gave us the concept of time, so we'd know our lives are short. But as nasty as people get in their unbelief, the ONLY recipe He ever gave us was to love them. Even if you're crucified.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • drillteamer

      thank you, that was SO relevant to the heroic actions of a mother saving her two children. in case you couldn't tell, that was sarcasm.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Moncada

    Stephanie Decker what can I say? You are an admirable, brave woman.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. amazed

    Wow, I salute you mam, as a Marine, and as a man, you earned the right to be called a hero!! a lesser woman would have saved herself recklessly, you are MY hero, and I mean that Mrs. Decker! It's stories like this that make me proud to serve. Your children have an amazing mother, and you are an amazing woman!

    March 7, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. max

    I wish you the best Stephanie. Glad your kids are ok, you're a brave lady.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. C

    What a wonderful mother. So glad she made it. Praying for her recovery. We have two children who are amputees. I can tell she has the Spirit to walk again! The article did not say how much of her legs she lost....

    March 7, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Heather

    This is what any real mom would do!! She has a lot of strength, and her husband is right, she gets to watch her babies grow old 🙂 an amazing survival story, she truly is a hero.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Adriana Gonzalez

    God Bless You and your family. I send a huge hug for you and your children.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nicole

    You are a true mother in every sense of the word!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dishonest truth

    I pump dem dudes and I pound dem boyz! I rock dat pooper and I bust out da toyz! They all want to play with my lil may not be right and feels sooo wrong! Cuz I may be a fruit and so very gayyy, but when they ask for my spoo ill say "its ok"!!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Guy Couch

    My check will be in the mail tomorrow. This is the kind of person who deserves our help, not those smelly hippies in the Occupy crowd.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mom of 3

    Stepehanie, you don't pay any attention to the babbles of ignorance some people have chosen to display here. The important thing is that you proved to yourself and your children that you are a wonderful, selfless woman and mother who protected her children as any mother should. Your selfless devotion to them should serve as an example to all of man kind and is something I'm sure your children will always cherish! God bless you and your family.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
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