Former U.S. Olympic and World Cup downhill skier Bode Miller and his wife, Morgan, continue to grieve over the drowning death last month of their 19-month-daughter, but in an interview shown Monday on NBC’s Today show, the couple opened up about the tragedy’s painful details to prevent similar heartbreak from striking other parents.
The two are trying to “live our days with purpose” by sharing message about pool safety, they said.
“She brought so much to our lives.”
See @SavannahGuthrie’s full interview with Bode and Morgan Miller about their daughter’s drowning pic.twitter.com/iW96b4irMc
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 30, 2018
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t pray for the opportunity to go back to that day and make it different. But now we have this opportunity to make other parents’ days different,” an emotional Morgan Miller told Today’s Savannah Guthrie in the couple’s first public interview since the accident. “We have the choice to live our days with purpose, to make sure that no other parent has to feel what we’re feeling.”
Emeline “Emmy” Miller died after she fell into a neighbor’s pool June 10. After discovering Emmy in the pool, Morgan pulled the toddler out of the water and started CPR while her neighbor called 911. Emmy Miller died at the hospital.
In their grief, Bode and Morgan Miller learned that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 4.
“It’s the number one way that you could potentially lose your kid. And if it’s number one for me, I want to know about it,” Bode said. “I’ve been to all the pediatrician’s meetings and check-ups on our kids. And I can’t say it’s come up one time. Not a single time.”
The Millers had enrolled their older children in drowning-prevention classes and installed a fence around their pool before moving into their home. They did everything they thought they were supposed to do.
“Guilt is a very painful thing,” Morgan said. “And even though it’s awful and living with it is terrible, and I hope and pray and beg that it gets easier, I am now much more aware in that area to make sure it doesn’t ever happen again.”
The couple now tries to move forward with a mission to help others be more vigilant, in memory of Emmy. They say their three other children help guide them through their darkest moments.
“When they talk about her and share stories, they always have a smile on their face,” Morgan said.
We are beyond devastated. Our baby girl, Emmy, passed away yesterday. Never in a million years did we think we would experience a pain like this. Her love, her light, her spirit will never be forgotten. Our little girl loved life and lived it to it’s fullest everyday. Our family respectfully requests privacy during this painful time.
The Millers’ decision to open up about the loss wasn’t an easy one, Bode said.
“It’s an obligation to some degree. And it’s also something to put our energy into,” he said. “If we can kind of have a positive impact, I think it does, in some way, help to heal a little bit. That maybe we’re preventing it from happening to somebody else.”
Current American Academy of Pediatrics guidance recommends that parents “should decide whether to enroll an individual child in swim lessons based on the child’s frequency of exposure to water, emotional development, physical abilities, and certain health conditions related to pool water infections and pool chemicals.”
But the organization does not recommend formal water safety programs for children who are younger than a year old.