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. palintwit

    That is exactly the kind of tasteless joke I would expect from a teabagger.

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

      A true heroin! You saved your children's lives... the epitomy of being a mother... I wish you a speedy recovery and the blessings of watching your children and sharing their love as they grow!

      March 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • kel

      Sorry but what you call "teabaggers" don't joke at the expense and pain of others. I am proud to have some of the same beliefs as the tea party. I also volunteer at our local soup kitchen, and volunteer at our church in the youth department every week. How is that a bad thing. I do this on top of the fact I recently lost my job of 18 years and was denied unemployment. Don"t bring politics into this. This woman did an amazing thing and I don't care what her political beliefs are. She was a mother first and foremost and that is all that counts. Take your political comments to a forum that supports them. They are not welcome here!

      March 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mike

    why did God love those kids so much and hate their mother so much

    March 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Because God hates trailer parks. That's why He sends tornadoes.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • RDM

      God? You mean like Odin?

      March 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snazzy

      Don't worry about it. Chances are, you have your own issues to worry about.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • silverback

      @ Jos c.
      Better leave your trailer then because your next!

      March 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      He didn't hate her. He loved her enough to give her those children to protect.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • kel

      God did not hate this mother. He gave her the guidance and will to protect and survive. I bet you anything she is looking at this a whole lot differently than you are. God doesn't cause the bad things to happen. But he does use them to work to and bring his children back to him. He didn't cause this tornado, but he will work with the people who are willing to accept him. Stop blaming god and get involved to help those who are suffering. Maybe, just maybe it will open you eyes.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dotti

    Wow! You are a wonderful person, I wish you the best and a speedy recovery. You are an angel here on earth!
    Your family is truly blest to have you.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Phyl

    Praying that you will have a speedy recovery...God Bless you..

    March 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lane

    As a mother of two small children, I feel compelled to tell you how wonderful, amazing and beautiful you are. If ever faced with any similar situation, I hope that I will have the strength and courage to do exactly what you did. You are true angel and hero – in other words – a good mother to your children. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope that you find strength in solace in what you have done. If you made it through that tornado, you can do anything.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • DreamKnight

      I echo Lane's comments, you are true hero mother, and I wish you a speedy recovery – GOD BLESS YOU and YOUR FAMILY.

      Regards, from Toronto – Canada

      March 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. great news

    nothing like CNN showing video of one of her high heeled shoes in the debris. Way to hammer the point home, CNN! Bavo..just think of all the money she will save on shoes!

    March 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      If you meant that as a joke, you failed...miserably.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. angel s

    Truly an epitome of a Wonder woman Mom. A story worth to be told to kids of the very sacrifice a mom would do to her children.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Morgan Carroll

    Stephanie: I am so sorry about what happened to your legs and to your home. There is no doubt you saved the lives of your children that day and I'm sorry you paid with such a high price. My heart goes out to you and your family and all the victims of these tornadoes.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Pssst! Hate to break it to you, but your new BFF Stephanie (you're on first-name basis now?) doesn't read CNN comment boards. Her trailer is gone, along with internet connection.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeepers

      Well said.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeepers

      Well said to Morgan...not Jose. Jose's an idiot.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rural WA

      Guess you missed that part about her "three-story home" – doesn't sound like a trailer to me.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pitiful

      Psst, hate to break it to you Jose but a trailer not only does not have a basement but they are not 3 stories high. Try actually reading the story before you start trolling. Apparently your comment was based on the other trolls commenting on here who also do not have reading comprehension skills.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Hate to break it to you, Jose, but Stephanie used her phone to contact her husband, so she is 'connected'.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Anne

    If there was no Mother's Day, one would be proclaimed, just for you. Best of luck from Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cutedog2

    Well done Mom.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. stanton

    At a terrible cost that no one should have to pay, all this storm uncovered in you is your courage, strength, love and beauty.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dylanesq@msn.com

    Stephanie, I was brought to tears when I read how brave and loving you are.You are an example of what true parenthood represents. Those kids wil forever know, in more ways than one, how their Mom will still always 'have their backs'. The confidence it will build in their hearts and minds will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
    Love

    Dylan Rivis, Montpelier, VT

    March 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Wendy in TX

    Wow Jose Cuervo since it said their house was 3 stories I highly doubt it was a trailer. So sad people have to be so mean. I can always count on negative comments on a great story.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Stephen King writes a great story. This one...eh. I guessed the ending.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      So you guessed the ending, Jose. BFD. I'll bet that makes you feel really good about yourself. Making others look bad to make yourself look good...how sad.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jeanne

    WOW....MOM spelled upside down.......your awesome and a true american hero to save your children....god bless you...i hope we hear more miracles like this one come from the destructuion of those storms.....

    March 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Daniela

    My deepest prayers to this family. The mother here is an angel and her sacrifices at any cost have saved her children's lives (even though she will will lose her legs). I can't even imagine the horror that these folks have been through. I am so sorry.

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