The Untold Truth About Kelly Ripa's Sister And Her Scary Accident

Kelly Ripa may be a world-renowned television host and actor, but less is known about her sister, Linda. The latter suffered a terrible accident when she was younger, altering her life and the lives of those around her.

Linda is Kelly's younger sister, and she was born in 1972. While Kelly catapulted to fame after starring in the sitcom, "All My Children," and hosting her daytime talk show, her sister went down a much different path. Linda had similar dreams of becoming a model or an actor, but a devastating car accident prevented her from pursuing a career in show business.

While Kelly may be in the public eye, her sister has a miraculous story to share. Linda has overcome a surprising number of hurdles in her life to get where she is today, and she's lived to tell the tale. We're breaking down the untold truth about Kelly Ripa's sister, Linda, and her scary accident.

Linda Ripa was involved in a tragic accident while she was pregnant

When Linda Ripa was seven months pregnant with her son, Sergio-Giuseppe Ripa, she suffered a terrible car accident. She was running errands in Philadelphia in 1999 when a drunk driver hit her car head-on as she waited at a traffic light, spinning her car into another minivan.

Linda remembered those fearful moments when she and her son's life hung in the balance. "People at the accident scene were amazing," she told The New York Times in 2002. "People stayed there with me until the ambulance came. One man kept wiping blood from my face. Another person held my neck up. Many asked what they could do. I don't know who they were, but it did keep my faith in humankind.”

The devastating accident left Linda with several broken bones, leaving her pelvis so badly crushed that her unborn son was at risk of dying. The New Jersey native was faced with difficult decisions, choosing not to take anesthesia or pain meds for her leg operations following the accident for fear they could harm her pregnancy. Over the next three years, Linda would undergo seven operations due to the near-fatal accident.

Her son was in a coma

Due to the injuries Linda Ripa suffered, her unborn son, Sergio-Giuseppe Ripa, went into a coma shortly after the car accident. Linda's broken pelvis bones had affected Serigio so much that the unborn baby spent four weeks in that state before he recovered and was delivered seven weeks early. 

Apart from some breathing problems due to the accident, the newborn emerged as an otherwise healthy baby, and his miraculous recovery became a lasting inspiration for his mother and surrounding family. "We don't know how it happened, but it did and, of course, we call him Miracle Baby,” Linda shared with The New York Times. His mother, however, was left stuck in bed and unable to hold her child unless someone helped her, one of the many consequences of the numerous injuries she suffered. "'It was the worst thing you could imagine,” she admitted. ”As much as I hurt from all the broken bones and operations, the worst thing was not really being able to hold my son for very long. Any mother would tell you that.”

After surviving the crash, Linda explained that she has her son to thank for being her motivation. "I don't suspect I will be without pain the rest of my life,” she exclaimed at the time. ”But when I look at my son, I know I won't give up.”

Linda was ridiculed by her perpetrator's family

Linda Ripa had to endure some shocking behavior from her perpetrator's family following the harrowing accident. While attending the trial of the drunk driver who smashed into her car, his friends and family seemingly blamed her for his actions at the time.

Ripa recalled to The New York Times how she showed up to the court proceedings in a wheelchair and was faced with abusive insults from the man's close friends and relatives. "'They called me the names you might imagine, as if it was my fault,” she revealed. ”They really showed no remorse, and I have no doubt that he could go and do this again." Following the trial, the driver was sentenced to six to 24 months in jail.

After the devastating collision, Linda joined forces with Kelly Ripa to get involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The talk show host ended up becoming the chairwoman and celebrity spokeswoman for Tie One on For Safety, a MADD program in which drivers fix a red ribbon on their vehicles in a promise to drive sober on holiday weekends, which is when people are more likely to celebrate by drinking.

She required 24-hour care after her accident

Linda Ripa's new reality after her accident meant around-the-clock care. Her family's lives were also altered by the tragedy, as her parents, Joseph and Esther Ripa, took on being her full-time caretakers as well as helping to raise Sergio-Giuseppe on her road to recovery. 

"They are older and raising their grandchild," Kelly Ripa explained to the New York Post in 2001. "My mother is a 24-hour-a-day nurse to my sister." While Linda got the much-needed help she needed with her son, she lost out on precious moments with him while he grew up. The "Live with Regis and Kelly" star told the publication that her sister had trouble walking and wasn't able to interact as much with Sergio-Giuseppe due to the crash. "She will never, ever know a normal life again. And there's nothing they can do," Kelly said.

Despite adjusting to a new normal, Linda did her best to find the positives in motherhood. "Though I had a career, I had always wanted, from when I was a girl, to be a mommy,” she relayed to The New York Times. ”Now I know my son wonders why I can't pick him up all the time, but at least I can enjoy watching him grow up.”

She suffered a botched ankle surgery after the tragic incident

Linda Ripa was left with even more problems after a drunk driver left her fighting for her and her son's life. Not only did she undergo several operations after the crash, but one surgeon left her with a botched ankle after she was rushed into surgery.

According to the New York Post, the former model claimed Dr. Menachem Meller put her under the knife without advising her of the risks or obtaining informed consent, and ultimately reset her broken bones incorrectly in her right ankle. Post-surgery, Ripa had a clawed foot and was dependent on crutches, as well as sustaining significant nerve damage in the area that resulted in unnecessary pain. Ripa decided to sue Dr. Meller because the surgery left her out of a job and future opportunities. At the time, she had turned down a $150,000 yearly salary working as a personal assistant for her famous sister due to her injuries.

Linda won $15 million in a surgery settlement

Linda Ripa's lawsuit against the doctor who caused long-lasting damage in her foot days after her car accident ended in favor of the victim. In a shocking decision, the jury awarded her $15 million in damages for the consequences she suffered after Dr. Menachem Meller failed to correctly put her ankle back into place. 

Before taking the case to court, Ripa had originally made an offer to settle with Meller for $2.4 million, but the doctor had refused. Meller alleged that it was her broken pelvis leaving her in crippling pain, and not the operation on her ankle shortly after the accident.

The jury sided overwhelmingly with Ripa, however, leaving Meller's attorneys in a state of shock. "I'm going to hazard a guess that the plaintiff, and the plaintiff's lawyers, in their wildest dreams, did not anticipate this case bringing in $15 million," said defense lawyer David Corujo after the verdict (via The Battalion). 

Writing a children's book helped her find the bright side

When Linda Ripa's dreams of becoming a model or actor were stunted, she decided to try another avenue. Ripa became an author in 2002, publishing her book, "The Ladybug Blues," which she illustrated as well. 

While bedridden post-accident, someone handed Ripa some coloring pencils, and she began to remember her love of drawing when she was a child. "My nickname as a little kid was Ladybug, so I drew some,” she shared in her New York Times interview. ”My little nephew, Mikey, would come in to visit and I would hold the papers up with my arms and draw for him. And I would tell stories to him and my son.”

Eventually, one of her stories about a ladybug feeling different from her insect friends drew the attention of her younger relatives. She decided to write it down, and her family encouraged her to go further with it. "I didn't think it was anything more than a story to tell Mikey and my son,” she recalled. ”I wrote and drew a few more. My father and my sister and my mother said: 'These are great. You should publish these.'" In the end, Ripa's changed career path ended up being a positive experience. "It is so rewarding to go to a reading and have all these little faces light up when you read them a story,” she said.

Linda's son grew up to be a guitarist

Sergio-Giuseppe Ripa may have had a rocky start when entering the world, but he has made the most of his life ever since. Linda's only son has gone on to pursue his dreams of being a musician and got his start when he was just 11 years old. He has been recording music for over a decade with a particular passion for playing the guitar. Sergio-Giuseppe received his associate's degree in audio production from Camden County College in 2021 and worked for his aunt, Kelly Ripa, as a production assistant on her talk show, "Live With Kelly and Ryan."

Sergio-Giuseppe is also a guitarist for the four-member band, Dr. Boat, which mixes funk sounds with rock and roll. The musician has made true his childhood dream of following a musical path, and he posted a throwback photo on Instagram featuring himself in his pre-teen years posing with the same double-neck guitar. "These photos are 10 years apart. But nothing has changed," he wrote in the caption.