One evening in 1950, Joe picked up Lee and 3-year old Robin and took them to visit her parents. Gary stayed home with Bob, who rarely left the house except to work, eat, and a couple of times a week, go to a local ice cream parlor where, for the price of a coffee and desert, you could watch "Your Show of Shows" or "The Milton Berle Show" on their wall-mounted TV. Late that night, Bob took a call from someone at the Leopold house that there had been an accident and that Lee was critically injured and on her way to the ER. Bob drove Gary to the house where it was explained that Lee had tripped going down the outside stairs and had landed on her head on the concrete sidewalk. She had a deep laceration on her temple and probably a concussion and possible damage to her skull. There was also significant blood loss. She went into surgery that night and there was no assurance of her survival for 48 hours.

Lee survived, but with an extensive scar and huge swelling that took many weeks to dissipate. The surgeons said that her life was a matter of millimeters regarding where the impact occurred.

A secondary tragedy occured that night. Robin had witnessd the fall and the bloody aftermath. He was just old enough to grasp the magnitude of the crisis and be traumatized by the sights and sounds of adult pandemonium and panic. The experience deeply affected him and his relationship with Lee for the rest of her life and beyond. For years, he experienced severe separation angst whenever Lee left the house or he went to school or to be with friends. Lee felt and expressed through her relationship with Robin deep guilt for the trauma that terrible event inflicted on him, leading to excessive permissiveness for whatever negative childhood and adolescent behaviors he indulged in. For Gary, this led to frustration and a sense of estrangement from his mother from that time on. Fortunately, both brothers managed to move past these complications as adults.