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. Kat

    To the Mother -You are amazing...

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

    true definition of a HERO. someone who KNOWINGLY endangers their own life to save the lives of others. most times that person is very badly injured but never regrets what they had done.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loopman

      @Snake, I have to second that. This is one tuff lady. My hat is off to her courage and willingness to do whatever it took to protect her little ones. Definitely falls into the HERO category in my book.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Angela Kim

    He texted her? I would have called her.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Susan

    Jose Cuervo, I pray that next time some storm takes you.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      You pray to a kind and loving God that He kill someone? Awesome! At least you're honest about your evil Christiantiy!

      March 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle in CO

      Don't follow this hateful person down the path of hate.....ignore him. That frustrates them the most and it keeps your karma clean. They want to make you they aren't the only one hating life. Misery loves company. This guy is probably living with his parents and probably hasn't had a real job in his life.

      Don't feed the wild only encourages them to return.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chap

    the ignorant remarks I am reading are repulsive, this woman lost her legs saving her children, she did what any mother would do, God bless her and yes there is a God, he spared her and her precious children.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      To be fair, only half credit to God. He only spared half of her, after all.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Thumper

    Amazing story...I am sure she will trade two legs for two healthy children.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jose Cuervo

    She still has part of a leg left, right? She can work at IHOP

    March 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Just think. If your mother had done anal instead you would've been nothing more than a brown spot on the sheets.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christina

      Jose...I will pray for you and your mother.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus Wept

      God please forgive him for his remark. One day he will realize the way of the righteous.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Oh no, not a religious troll! You give the rest of us a bad name.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Becky

    Thank God these children had their mother to protect them. They are all truly blessed that she will be able to see them grow up. I know she has a tough road ahead of her but I am sure she will get through because she is obviously a very strong person. My prayers go out to her and all the victims of these vicious storms. God Bless!!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Diane

    Dear Stephanie: I am so sorry for what you, your family and community went through! God bless you for your courageousness. I hope you feel better soon. You are truly a great mother. Sincerely Diane from Bayside, NY

    March 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Michelle in CO


    Stay strong Super Mom.....if you can make it through can make it through anything. May God continue to bless you and your wonderful family. You and all the other victims of Mother Natures wrath are in my prayers.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Christina

    Stephanie is my cousin and my hero...and I am so honored to love her and know her! She is the greatest example of what it means to be a mother. Her children are also a testament to the woman that she is....And...This beautiful woman reinforces to me that there is a God and he has not forgotten us. He is with us through the best and worst of times!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mommttoo

    God bless you stephanie! You are brave beyond words and have taught your children devotion to family!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CRL

    Jose Cuervo – So for the sake of us all can you tell me what makes you act out like this. becuase if i even thought you would tell me were you are at i would take one for the team and beat your a$$. You need to just stop writing before you really start to offend people more, this one lady did something extraordinary for her family and you criticize her like she is in the wrong. i dont get it.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      You apparently also don't "get" grammar, punctuation, and captalization. That's okay. We love you anyway.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Well, right now I'm hiding in your mother's closet because your father just came home early, so can we talk about this later?

      March 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle in CO

      CRL - stopping feeding the trools. It only encourages him. Don't you get it....trools feed on hate. If you ignore him he will leave.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Michelle is right. Just ignore me. Really. Just like your mother is ignoring me right now. Jeeeez, this closet is dark.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrSinilindin

      What everybody needs to keep in mind is that Jose Cuervo is 5 foot 4, small build, very unmanly, unemployed, and insecure with his looks. It is very easy for him (sitting on two telephone books) to sit at his computer and spew out hateful venom. Outside his home, he is the guy that won't even look you in the eye because he has no self-confidence. He also knows he would have left his kids to defend themselves against the tornado while he curled up in the fetal position with his thumb in his mouth, crying for his mama (who is likely in prison). So give the guy a break.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      So, somebody in another post claimed I was 600lbs. You say I'm skinny. Please make up your minds!

      March 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      @Jose – I'm sure you think you're funny. I'm sure you don't get enough attention in your daily life. I'm sure you think it's okay to say whatever you want because you're online, and no one knows who you are. I'm also sure you're not nearly brave enough to be this ignorant in person, or you'd have swallowed your teeth several times already and learned a lesson in civility. Having said all this, what you're saying isn't funny, it isn't cute, it's not witty or avant garde – it's just assinine. And everything you do in life brings results, even just hateful words. You're screwing your karma all kinds of ways, so just hope that someday, you don't wind up in a story like this with some failed comic wannabe spewing nonsense that your family may come upon. Life has a funny way of repaying people for cruelty.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Michelle, didn't I pick you up at a truck stop last week? No, sorry. You were the one I passed by.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Sorry everybody, you were right, I was wrong. I take everything I said back. I'm just a sad person that nobody loves.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      But just for the record, Michelle, I still wouldn't touch your skeezy roadwhoore self with a ten-foot pole covered in penicillin.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Cuervo

      Craaap! Here I go again. Michelle, I'm so sorry, I have Tourette syndrome and just can't keep my dirty mouth shut!

      March 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Debby

    CNN's hero of the year.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hero and inspiration

      Will all of the terrible news out there about missing children and sad things we hear that happen to them.....this is news that, although sad for Mrs. Decker.....she truly is the "MOM OF THE YEAR." Hero, loving mom, selfless, brave, doing what seemed to be the impossible. Yes, I agree.....CNN HERO!!!! I hope a company will pitch in and donate the prosthetics that she will need now. What an amazing person!

      March 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yolanda

      totally.... i agree !!!!!

      March 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. IndyWatcher

    I have a great deal of respect for you, my dear. I only hope that I would have had the courage to do the same. Bless you and your family.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
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