A Frankfort native lost parts of both legs while protecting her children during the EF-4 tornado that leveled Henryville, Ind., Friday.
Stephanie Wise Decker, 36, the daughter of Jeri Mayes White and Doug Wise and a graduate of Franklin County High School, remains at University Hospital in Louisville following surgery to treat the traumatic injuries to her legs, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
The newspaper reported that Joe Decker was texting his wife from Silver Creek High School, where he works as a teacher and baseball coach, telling her that radar showed a tornado headed directly at their three-story brick and stone house.
She had arrived home minutes before and immediately huddled in the basement with their 8-year-old son, Dominic, and 5-year-old daughter, Reese.
Then she “just stopped texting me,” Joe Decker said, standing outside his devastated home on Sunday afternoon, the newspaper said.
“She was on top of them.”
Decker said his wife, while unable to speak strongly because of a ventilator tube, narrated the events by typing into an iPad in the hospital.
She said she saw a massive piece of debris collapsing on her and pulled her daughter out of the way at the last moment.
Joe Decker reported on Facebook Sunday that the ventilator has been removed and his wife is now breathing on her own, but will undergo more surgery later in the week.
A letter went out Sunday from Physicians Ancillary Services, where Stephanie has worked for three years.
Carl J. Tyler, CEO of Physicians Ancillary Services, praised the Deckers, who “lost everything,” and wrote that the company has set up a trust fund to help them.
Tyler announced the formation of “The Stephanie Decker Recovery Fund,” a trust to help with personal losses and medical bills that will be managed by the company’s law firm.
“I can tell you they are some of the hardest working, giving people you could ever want to meet. They would never ask for help, but would be there to give it to others in a second.”
Facebook friends began posting information about the Decker family Friday. Many had attended school with Stephanie in Frankfort and others were family friends.
“Her actions epitomized a mother’s love,” a Facebook friend of Stephanie’s told The State Journal Sunday night.
“Her first thoughts were of protecting her children and she almost lost her life doing it,” the friend said.
Stephanie was taken from Clark Memorial in Indiana to the Louisville hospital after being transported by ambulance from the scene.
Joe Decker told The State Journal in an email late Sunday that the children were unharmed and that he would like for Stephanie’s Frankfort friends to know what is happening.
For those interested in helping the family, funds can be mailed to: The Stephanie Decker Recovery Fund, C/O PAS, 10 Higgins Highway, Suite 5, Mansfield, Connecticut 06250.
“No amount is too small,” Tyler wrote.