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. CJ

    After a year of hearing about moms and dads killing their kids it is a very welcomed relief to hear about
    a mom who is a TRUE mom with great mothering and protection instincts. I pray for her speedy recovery and for many blessings upon this mom and her family.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shawn H

    YOU ARE A HERO!!! Your kids will remember that for the rest of their lives.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Why? Is she going to have the legs bronzed and give them to each child as a memento? That would be memorable.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Jose, those children won't need bronzed legs to remember what their mother did for them. They have her, and that's what's important.

      You are a sad, pathetic individual.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tammie

    a true hero! god bless this family

    March 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. xeno

    Wow. The power of a mother.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      The power of the tornado was greater. You're welcome.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Allen retired

    Strength and honor of a mother, paid at a horrible cost. Best wishes to you and yours and good luck in rehab.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dorothy M

    Now THAT is a mother! What a hero she is! Her son is also a hero for going for help and thereby saving his mother's life. My best wishes to the family and to all the victims of those terrible tornadoes.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. J R Brown

    Where are the comments about her being one of those "evil rich people who isn't paying her fair share"...?
    This mom is an amazing example of what you can be if you didn't think the world owes you everything.

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

      Please don't initiate the trolling...we already have Jose.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sam

    Stephanie you should be very proud of yourself. Your children are blessed to have you as their mother. Your quick thinking and reaction saved 3 precious lives. My pray goes out to you and your loved ones and neighbors that you may all find the strength to heal and rebuild your homes and lives again..God Bless.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Precious lives? Thsi is Indiana. At least one of those kids will grow up to be a serial killer.

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

      Hey Jose, as a citizen of Indiana, I have a question for you. As you sit there, typing your little "quips" to these comments, have you taken a second to pause and think about what malfunctions you suffer from to make you be such a pr!ck? The people from Indiana that you seem to possess such a low opinion you know that since Friday, I've seen the most selfless of acts of people helping strangers. I've even seen people give their own coats off their back.

      In the wake of this tragedy, I can assure you, your childish comments fail to compare. Personally, I think you're quite pathetic to ride the coat-tails of this tragedy to spew your banter. Now, I suggest you go stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself where you went wrong and I suggest you idenify your malfunction and seek help accordingly.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christine

      Snazzy, I thought you were going to say that he should go stand in front of a train or Big Mack Daddy truck, haha. But you didn't because you are a class act:)

      March 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Calm it down before you stroke out, Snazz! I never said all people from Indiana were hicks. I mean, I'm saying that now, but only because you reminded me to.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jose Cuervo

    Meh. Legs just grow back, right?

    March 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Your comment makes me sad & disappointed in mankind.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Worker Bee

      Too bad neither your heart or brain grew...

      March 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Just Googled it. My bad. I was thinking of salamanders. This lady is just SOL>

      March 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SC Mommy

    God be with them all. What a mother. What a brave, strong woman.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jose Cuervo

    If this woman had just used birth control she never would have been in that position to begin with.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fox

      you sad, sad little man!

      March 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • morals and values

      Jose Cuervo should stop drinking so much "Jose Cuervo" when commenting about peoples lives. If there is any argument for birth control, you are item #1.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sam

    Joe how can we forget what role you played here.. the most important of it all. if it wasnt for your text to your wife.. it would be sad to imagine. Your quick reaction in letting your wife know what to expect is amazing.. Hang in there for your family.. All the very best..

    March 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gloria

    God and His angels were truly watching out for this family.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colin

      And the missing leg. If that's the best he can do, next time might I suggest a meteorologist.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      God was looking out for her, but only the upper half of her body. Hey! He's busy!

      March 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mom in California

    Seeing Stephanie's story brings tears to my eyes. I honor you, Stephanie, for your courage, selflessness, and love. What blessed children to have you as their mother. Prayers and best wishes for your recovery.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mm

    Jose Cuervo, your mother should have swallowed.
    Jose Cuervo is nothing but a troll who weighs 600lbs, is homebound and hasn't seen daylight or its a$$ in years.
    Pay no attention to this troll and it will go away.

    Speedy recovery to this mom!

    March 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Yes, but they can't help replying to me. Just like you did.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Jose, we're just hoping that you're realize how sad and pathetic you really are. Your mother must be so proud of you.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
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