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People Are Awesome: This Woman Lost Her Legs in a Tornado to Save Her Children's Lives People Are Awesome: This Woman Lost Her Legs in a Tornado to Save Her Children's Lives
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People Are Awesome: This Woman Lost Her Legs in a Tornado to Save Her Children's Lives

by Cord Jefferson

March 8, 2012


When tornadoes came ripping through middle America last Friday, the eye of one storm was headed straight for Stephanie and Joe Decker's house in Marysville, Indiana, a small town near the Kentucky border. By the time Stephanie got home and received Joe's text message telling her to head for cover, she had only minutes to get herself and her two children into the basement. Once there, the horror began.

The Deckers' "dream home"—a 8,000-square-foot mass of stone and brick—was no match for the tornado's 175-mph winds. Within minutes, it began crumbling, sending debris straight for the basement. As one particularly large piece of rubble headed straight for her 5-year-old daughter, Reese, Stephanie threw herself on Reese and her 8-year-old son, Dominic, covering them with her body until the storm passed. As she was pummeled by an entire house and its contents, Stephanie screamed to her children over and over, "We're going to make it."

After the storm, Dominic and Reese didn't have a scratch on them. Stephanie, on the other hand, had suffered such severe injuries that one of her legs was only partially attached, while the other had been considerably beaten. Unable to walk, she was bleeding profusely when her son fought his way out of the rubble and ran for help. The Deckers' neighbor, a sheriff's deputy, was able to run over and use a belt as a tourniquet to stop Stephanie's bleeding. "She's like, 'I'm dying, I'm dying,'" Lovins told the Today show. "Her kids were able to get out and call for help, and her kids saved her life."

Stephanie is now in fair condition at a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. Both of her legs have been amputated, but she kept her promise to her kids: They all made it.

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