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. hushupp

    WTG and God bless you, Stephanie. Mother's Day will mean so much to your family this year. My best wishes to you all.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chris

    What a great great mother, it's sad she lost her legs, but if I were her I'd be so proud of my injuries. There's no way those kids would have survived without her protection. This is just awesome.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bethany

    She is amazing!!!! Now this is how a mother should be., a hero to her kids 🙂 I hope you recover and live a wonderful life together.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ram

    Amazing... Its a great story about a mother and mother nature. Wish you all the happiness in the world.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. trollol

    The part that made this story stand out was that her decision to shield her children cost her her legs and not her life. Life for her is never going back to 'normal'. The things loving mothers do for their children..

    March 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lisa

    What a hero....that's what I call a devoted Mom. Selfless and brave because you had to be. Speedy recover and God Bless you and your family.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Vicki

    Wow Stephanie, what an ordeal. Your kids will never forget your sacrifice and I'm sure you were honored to do so. You've been blessed with the lives of your children. I wish you the speediest recovery and the best of health.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Christine

    Mom of the year, hands down. You rock, Stephanie!

    March 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Marjen

    I could not do that

    March 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      I'll bet you could, Marjen. Never underestimate your abilities when it comes to your children.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. juge

    WOW You are a HERO! I am so glad you survived to be able to see your children grow up with you as a mentor. Think positive, listen to the doctors, do your rehab and you will up and about sooner rather than later. You are an inspiration and a mommy par excellance!

    March 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tracy

    Lady, you are one tough woman.

    March 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. William

    WoW! What a tough story. I'm prayin that in any way Jesus will help get the money bacl to rebuil that house!

    March 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JohnnyJett

    I told my wife that I would fight a lion if I had to, jump in front of a train or give both my kidneys to my wife and/or our 5 children. I said it, this Mother did it! I know if that day ever comes I will too. Stephanie, well done on your quick thinking to protect your own 🙂

    March 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. William

    WoW! What a tough story. I'm prayin that in any way Jesus will help get the money bacl to rebuild that house!

    March 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Epidi

    Your instincts to protect your children have served them & yourself well. Speedy recovery and best wishes to the family.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
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