Former Olympic alpine skier Bode Miller and his wife, Morgan Beck Miller, are speaking out after their 19-month-old daughter, Emeline, tragically drowned in a neighbor’s swimming pool earlier this summer.
In an emotional interview that aired on the “Today” show Monday morning, the Millers sat down with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie to raise awareness about the deadly threat drowning poses to young children.
“It’s the number one way that you could potentially lose your kid,” Bode said. “If it’s number one for me, I want to know about it. … I’ve been to all the pediatrician meetings and checkups on our kids, and I can’t say it’s come up one time. Not a single time.”
“The intensity behind this conversation is where we are lacking,” Morgan added. “This should be the number one thing that we talk about. The same way we check off those milestones for [questions like], is your child walking? How many words does your child have? That next question is have you started swim lessons?”
Morgan, through tears, recounted the series of events leading up to Emeline’s death. While Bode was at a softball game for the couple’s older daughter, Dacey, Morgan had brought Emmy and the couple’s two sons to a neighbor’s house for a playdate. The kids had been going back and forth between two rooms, about 15 feet apart, when Morgan noticed things were suddenly quieter.
“The door that leads to the backyard that was closed had this tiny sliver of light coming through the side,” she said. “My heart sank, and I opened the door, and she was floating in the pool.”
Morgan started CPR, and her neighbor called 911. Doctors initially told the Millers there was hope Emmy would survive, but her brain ultimately had not received enough oxygen for too long of a time.
“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,” Morgan said. “But now we have this opportunity to make other parents’ days different.”
The Millers say they are living their days with grief, but “with purpose.” Bode said speaking out about the tragedy, in some ways, “helps to heal a little bit” because they are potentially preventing it from happening to other families. The couple suggests taking drowning prevention classes and installing protection barriers around pools as ways to encourage water safety.
“I can attest from first-hand experience now that it’s unbelievable quick and it’s unbelievable sneaky,’’ Bode said. “You’d think it’d be, like some weird circumstance or some strange thing. And it’s not. It just happens in the blink of an eye.’’
“A child under 30 pounds can drown in 30 seconds,” Morgan added. “I just keep counting the 30 in my head, that was all I needed, and so it’s one of those things where, as a parent now when you go to someone else’s house, survey the home to see if it’s a safe place for your child to be.’’
The Millers are also expecting a baby this October.
“That was my first concern, besides the fact of never being able to see my daughter again, it was every time, ‘How am I supposed to bring a new baby into this world [after] just losing my baby?'” Morgan said. “But now we have the opportunity to get to love that baby not only for ourselves but for Emmy.”
“She brought so much to our lives.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 30, 2018