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. Michele

    Reiki sent.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. silverback

    Behind every great leader, there is a MOM! What a terrific lesson to us all.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Carla

    What an inspirational story. Blessings to this family. Tears are still streaming down my face after reading this story.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mz Brown

    Stephanie, you are absolutely AMAZING!

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

      I did her. I mean, before the double amputation.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anonyous

    Mother Nature doesn't pull punches...she's lucky to be alive!

    March 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ericka in Tampa

    I wish Stephanie the best and will keep her (and her family) in my prayers...

    March 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hannah

    This is a sad story:(:(:(:(:(:(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!&
    I can't believe the storm did that

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

      Inorite? I can't believe a storm actually acted like...a storm. I would suggest she sue, but I don';t think she has a leg to stand on.

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

      how sad for you Jose!

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

      Jose... you're just a SOB. How can you say something like that?

      March 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Well, I didn't actually say it. I typed it. But I get where you're going with this.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Laurie

    Stephanie, you are a true example of a hero! God Bless you and your family as you recover from this!.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Derby

    Much love and respect to you, ma'am. Thank the good Lord these children had you to protect them. May you share a lifetime of joy with them.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. palintwit

    Having grown up and live in some of the trashiest trailer parks in the country makes Sarah Palin the perfect tornado magnet.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. drivenb4u

    Mom of the year right there.

    Oh yeah and there's no god.

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

    Jose stop your nonsense!

    March 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SKEE HEE

    If you have time before a tornado hits, put your child in a portable car seat carrier. Have older kids and you put on bike, baseball or any other type sports helmet.
    The carrier will protect the young ones and helmets can help all. Then get in your safe spot.

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

      They were from Indiana. Pretty sure they were already wearing the retarrrd helmets.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JV

    Jose Cuervo, your mother must have been the biggest hoe bag to give birth to something so ugly like yourself.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. KAG

    A mom will stop at nothing to keep her children safe.

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