Tornado Hero Mom, Stephanie Decker, Returns Home

Mar 19, 2012 12:24pm

Stephanie Decker, the 36-year-old Indiana mother who used her own body to shield her two children from a 175 mph tornado, says she is grateful for all the support her family has received and is ready to rebuild her life.

“I feel healthy.  I feel strong.  I’m ready to tackle rehab,” Decker said Friday as she left the Kentucky hospital where she’s spent the past two weeks.  “I feel really, really, really good.”

Decker lost both her legs during a monster tornado outbreak in the Midwest earlier this month that included 140 reported twisters, 76 confirmed tornado landings and 39 deaths.

As one of the tornadoes approached Decker’s Henryville, Ind., home on Friday, March 2, she could feel it sucking her home into its vortex, she told ABC News.  In order to save her two children, 8-year-old son Dominic  5-year-old daughter Reese, Decker threw her body over them.

The falling debris – refrigerator, table and cinder blocks included – crushed her legs in the process and both had to be amputated, one just below the knee, the other just above it.

“I knew my leg was barely attached or it was severed. I didn’t know which but I knew it was bad. If I didn’t get help soon, I was going to bleed out,” Decker told ABC News in an interview from her hospital bed in Louisville, Ky.,  three days after the tornado struck.

“It was nothing I expected,” she said. “I never, ever thought in a million years my house would be blown away.”

After two weeks in the hospital, and much media attention, Decker was discharged from the University of Louisville Hospital on Friday.

“The support has been tremendous,” she said to reporters gathered outside the hospital.   “It has really taken a burden off of all of us…and helped us to just be a family.”

Decker will now further her recovery in a rehabilitation center.  Doctors say she should be able to walk again after being fitted with prosthetic limbs.

ABC News’ Matt Gutman and Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

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