Kelly Ripa is a doting mother and wife who regularly gives her legions of fans a glimpse into her family life, but the TV personality also suffered a tragedy she rarely speaks of.
The Live with Kelly and Ryan host has an older sister, Linda, who almost died following a horrific car accident.
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In 1999, the aspiring model - now 52 - was seven months pregnant with her son, Sergio-Giuseppe, when her car was struck by a drunk driver - and what happened next is heartbreaking.
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She sustained horrific injuries, including multiple broken bones and a crushed pelvis which pushed into her unborn son’s head.
Linda's son - Kelly’s nephew - went into a coma in utero and his mum refused anesthetic for leg surgery for fear of damaging her unborn child.
Sergio was born seven weeks early and the road to recovery began for them both.
Linda later called him "a miracle baby," and told The New York Times: "We don’t know how it happened. But it did."
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Kelly with her sister Linda in 2002 at her book launch
Kelly’s sibling was bedridden for more than a year and underwent numerous surgeries. It was during this time that Kelly would visit with her firstborn, Michael - who is now 23.
Speaking of her passion for drawing - which would spark a career in children’s book writing - Linda said: “'My nickname as a little kid was Ladybug, so I drew some,'' she said. ''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.''
A few years after the accident, Linda was awarded $15million from a surgeon who botched her surgery.
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Kelly with her husband, children and her parents too
At the time, Kelly spoke to the court via video and revealed her parents, Essie and Joe, were having to care for Linda and Sergio.
"They are older and raising their grandchild," Kelly said in 2001. "My mother is a 24-hour-a-day nurse to my sister.
"She will never, ever know a normal life again. And there's nothing they can do," Kelly added.
Many years on, and Sergio is now 21 and thankfully fit, healthy, and an aspiring musician. Kelly shared a birthday tribute to her beloved nephew in September 2020 along with several never-before-seen family photos with him.
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Kelly created a montage for her nephew Sergio's 21st birthday
Her sister has a successful career as an author and illustrator.
Kelly rarely talks about the accident but has said it’s made her incredibly grateful for her husband, Mark Consuelos, and their three children, Joaquin, 17, Lola, 19, and Michael.
"Every day of my life that I feel like I'm going to complain about something small, minute, I think of my sister. And it makes you appreciate what's important in life.
"We, Mark and me, have three beautiful, healthy kids and if everything we've achieved together disappeared tomorrow, we would still have three healthy, beautiful kids. And who could ask for anything more than that?"
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