Terrible and Amazing Story of a Woman Who Saved Her Kids & Herself During the Tornadoes in Indiana

[Content Note: Serious injury.]

Among the extreme weather happening in many parts of the US right now, we're getting tornadoes all over Indiana. The tornado warning sirens have gone off in town several times today, but luckily nothing serious has materialized. In southern Indiana, Henryville was not so fortunate. Stephanie Decker was home with her two children when two tornadoes within a matter of minutes of one another leveled their home. This is the awesome, in the very real sense of the world, story of how she saved them and managed to survive.

Drew Douglas, a white male reporter, walking near utterly flattened home: Here's all that remains of the Deckers' home, after the two tornadoes whipped through Henryville. Just before the devastation struck, Stephanie Decker put herself on the line for her kids. She grabbed a large comforter and wrapped them inside and then rested herself on top of them to shield them from all the debris.

Stephanie Decker, a 37-year-old white woman, from a hospital bed: I was reaching around holding them and trying to keep everything away from them, so it didn't hit them.

Douglas, in voiceover, over images of the wreckage of the Deckers' home (which underlie his voiceovers throughout): The wreckage that piled on Stephanie broke seven of her ribs and almost completely severed both of her legs.

Decker, from hospital bed: I had two steel beams on my legs, and I couldn't—I couldn't move. I was stuck.

Douglas, in voiceover: Decker told her eight-year-old son Dominic to make sure the coast was clear before getting help. Stephanie's fear was confirmed: A second twister was headed right for her family.

Decker, from hospital bed: And they're screaming, "Mommy, I can't live without you. I don't wanna die. Please don't let me die."

Douglas, in voiceover: Despite being pinned down by the steel beams, Decker covered her two children a second time with the comforter. After two tornadoes, just minutes apart, leveled their home, Dominic and five-year-old Reese didn't suffer so much as a scratch.

Joe Decker, Stephanie's husband, a white man, at her hospital bed side, choked up: Anybody that knows her has no doubt that's what she'd do.

Douglas, in voiceover: Unable to remove the heavy debris lying on top of their badly injured mother, Decker's young son went for help. The phone lines were down, so Stephanie used her cell phone for something else.

Decker, from hospital bed: And then I—I took my phone and I made a video to my husband [chokes up, looks at her husband] telling him I love him…and my children that I love them.

Douglas, in voiceover: After what seemed like a lifetime, a neighbor and four others finally arrived for the thirty-seven-year-old mother writhing in pain.

Decker, from hospital bed: He came down and I looked at him and I said, "I'm dying—you've got to save me!"

Douglas, in voiceover: Tourniquets were made to prevent her from bleeding to death. She was eventually taken to the University of Louisville Hospital, where she continues to recover. Both of her legs—casualties from the massive storm.

Decker: But if I can make it through that, I can live through anything.

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