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. linda

    Some time ago my daughter brought home a fridge magnet for me with the words "Love is a three letter word....Mom". Today I discovered that Hero is also spelled the same way...Stephanie is a true inspiration and I hope that she doesn't mourn what she lost but rejoices in what she saved. Her little boy is also a hero...for an 8 yr. old to compose himself enough, after such trauma, to find help is incredible. Seems like Stephanie was doing a great job before all this happened...keep up the great work...we need people like Stephanie and her family in our world!

    March 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TINA

    This brought tears to my eyes...yes a previous person said it...with all the evilness you hear about parents harming their children....this confirms there is still good people out there. This mom is a selfless HERO...to say the least!!

    March 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jack Daniels

    tornado: 1
    mom : -2

    March 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      You: – life

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

      So, Jose changed his drink of choice. A troll is a troll is a troll.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • VIvaLaKelsey

      Well, actually she saved her 2 kids, so that balances things out

      March 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guin

      I feel sorry for you.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen S

      What an awful, heartless thing to say. How sad must your life be, that you would feel the need to attempt to make a joke out of something like this?

      March 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • TJ

      Jack Daniels....shame on you for this attempt at humor. This mother did want any devoted parent would do to save their their child. Her actions are not a funny score board notation, but that of unconditional love to her children. If you possess any form of manhood you will either remove your post or apologize.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really Jersey

      Normally I would probably say something nasty about your mother, but I like Lassie.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. Diane

    What an incredible and inspiring story!!! A True Hero – There shouldn't be a mother or father in this world who would not protect their children when it comes to life/death situations.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kerry

    Best wishes to Stephanie on her recovery and rehabilitation, and to her family for the recovery they are going through as well.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Fox

    Jose, you are one whack job, nice comments buddy! This is a great story and Stepanie should be very proud of herself, she did an amazing thing.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Christine

    Her husband TEXTED her? wow!

    March 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sab

    My hero!! God bless you & your family

    March 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alan

    Jose Cuervo is clearly stupid....Not only by his choice of cheap nasty tequila but because he is an internet troll with some some insecurity issues.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mommy of two

    Jose Cuervo Stop being such a D-bag. Maybe you should have been in her place and youd understand what shes going through. You are a heartless POS and you should rot in hell.......What an amazing mother. Her and her family are so very lucky.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • mm

      Jose is a internet troll. No need to get upset as that is what it is attempting to do.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Very compassionatel of you, "Mommy". Oh, and I really hope you give your kids body parts and not English lessons. Do you really call yourself "Mommy" or is that what the guys on the street call you?

      March 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. abhinav

    WOW.... its MOM Vs Nature, and Mom wins. But i hope Mother nature showed a little mercy.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dobro

    I don't normally get emotional, but this made me cry! I'm so glad these guys lived. So sorry for the mom to lose her legs. What a woman!!

    March 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Melissa

    What an incredible woman, I hope she makes a full and speedy recovery, we will be praying for her.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jennifer

    Inspiring story of a mother's fierce love and bravery. So refreshing to read this as opposed to all of the child abuse cases CNN usually runs. This brought tears to my eyes.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cecilia

    Just stopped the tears long enough to post. God bless you Stephanie. I know you will have a long and wonderful life. Your children are truly blessed to have a Mom like you. I had a sign once that read. God could not be everywhere so he invented Mothers. Many prayers coming your way

    March 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      I wish the tears hadn't stopped. That would have prevented your post. Kind of like birth control for bleeding hearts.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fox

      Wow buddy! You really have some serious issues, I hope you seek the help you need before you act out with the all the anger and pent up frustration you have inside of you...either that or you get squashed like a dirty old fly!

      March 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
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