Bode and Morgan Miller emotionally recall daughter's drowning death: 'I hope and pray and beg that it gets easier'

Following the tragic death of their 19-month-old daughter, Bode and Morgan Miller say they are trying to “live our days with purpose” — and they’re speaking out in hopes of preventing similar drownings.

On Monday, the Olympic skier and pro-beach volleyball player appeared together on the Today show, opening up for the first time about the loss of their youngest child, Emeline “Emmy” Miller, on June 10 after she fell into a neighbor’s pool. 

“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 — who was with Emmy when the tragedy occurred while Bode took his older daughter to her softball game — admitted to Savannah Guthrie. “But now we have this opportunity to make other parents’ days different. We have the choice to live our days with purpose, to make sure that no other parent has to feel what we’re feeling.”

On the day of the accident, Bode was swimming with some of the couple’s kids (Emeline and Nash, 3, and Bode’s two children from previous relationships) earlier in the day, as he did practically every morning at the pool at their house, which they fenced before even moving in. Later, when he went to the ball game, Morgan took the rest of the kids to the home of their neighbors, a family so close to them that they visited several times a week. Morgan was on the sofa having tea while Emmy toddled around in front of her, and the boys, her stepson Nate and son Nash, played nearby.

“Emmy would go back and forth, which was all of 15 feet. And all of a sudden, it was just too quiet for me,” Morgan recalled. “We’re in mid-conversation and I stood up. And I turned and I went right to where the boys were and I said, ‘Where is Emmy?'” However, “before Nate could respond, I turned around and the door that leads to the backyard, that was closed, had this tiny sliver of light coming through the side. And my heart sank, and I opened the door and she was floating in the pool.”

Morgan jumped into the pool to pull her out and started CPR immediately while her neighbor called 911. They also called Bode, and he heard the whole thing play out on the phone.

While they were initially told their daughter might survive, the doctor later said her “brain had just not had enough oxygen for too long of a time,” Bode explained.

Bode went on to talk about drowning being the leading cause of unintentional death for children 1 to 4 years old. “If it’s No. 1 for me, I want to know about it,” said the skier, whose older children had participated in drowning prevention classes prior to the incident. “I’ve been to all the pediatrician’s meetings and checkups on our kids. And I can’t say it’s come up one time. Not a single time.”

Bode called speaking about their daughter’s death “an obligation to some degree. I think it does, in some way, help to heal a little bit. That maybe we’re preventing it from happening to somebody else.”  Though Morgan freely admitted, “Guilt is a very painful thing. 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.”
 
Helping them through the tragedy are memories of their girl (who had a “powerful, bull-like personality,” said dad) and the love of their other children. “When they talk about her and share stories, they always have a smile on their face,” Morgan said. “And they constantly remind us, ‘We’re still here.’ And it allows us to bring our focus back to the things we still have to be incredibly grateful for.”

Like the fact that they are expecting another child this fall, which has obviously been difficult in light of the circumstances. “That was my first concern,” Morgan admitted. “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 without — with just losing my baby?”

She said, “Now we have the opportunity to get to love that baby not only for ourselves but for Emmy.”

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Bode Miller through the years
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Bode Miller through the years
Olympic skier Bode Miller poses after an interview in New York June 15, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
America's Bode Miller, skiing in only his second World Cup season, skis to 8th place from a 43rd start position in the men's World Cup giant slalom November 20. The surprise finish was a personal best for the 21 year old from Franconia, NH, and the best U.S. time. Stephan Eberharter of Austria won the event. RTW/LJM/JDP
Bode Miller of the USA celebrates after winning the World Cup men's giant slalom race in Val d'Isere, December 9, 2001 in a total time of two minutes 36.02 seconds. Frederic Covili of France placed second and Stephan Eberharter of Austria was third. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier RP/
Bode Miller of the United States slams his way through a gate on his way to a silver medal in the men's combined downhill skiing at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games, February 13, 2002 in Snowbasin. Miller had a total time of three minutes, 17.84 seconds to win the silver medal in the combined competition. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich JRB/HB
Italian Davide Simoncelli skis to his second place in the men's World Cup Giant Slalom at Alta Badia December 22, 2002. U.S. skier Bode Miller won in two minutes 33.81 ahaed of Simoncelli and Austrian Christian Mayer. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini AEM/
Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway bites his bronze medal after the Combined event at the World Alpine Skiing Championships in St. Moritz on February 6, 2003. Bode Miller of the United States won the gold medal in a total time of three minutes, 18.41 seconds ahead of the Norwegians Lasse Kjus and Kjetil Andre Aamodt. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini LE/WS
Bode Miller, of the United States, pushes out of the start gate to take his first run as the FIS Men's World Cup Downhill training began in Lake Louise, Canada, November 26, 2003. Lake Louise Winterstart will host the men's first downhill of the season on November 29. Miller posted a time of 1.51:10. REUTERS/Mike Blake MB/GN
Bode Miller of the U.S. smiles after placing second in the men's Alpine skiing World Cup slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland, February 8, 2004. REUTERS/Marcus Gyger PLA/CR/
Bode Miller of the United States leans on his skis after he placed first in the Men's World Cup Super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta November 28, 2004. Miller had a time of one minute, 28.18 seconds. Austrian skier Hermann Maier was second and teammate Michael Walchhofer was third. REUTERS/Andy Clark AC
Bode Miller of the U.S. concentrates before the third training session in the men's Alpine skiing World Cup downhill in Chamonix, French Alps, January 7, 2005. Miller clocked the second best time. Mont Blanc is seen in the background.
Miller of the US smiles as he poses with his gold medal after winning the men's Super-G race at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Bormio. Bode Miller of the U.S. smiles as he poses with his gold medal after winning the men's Super-G race at the Alpine Ski World Championships in the northern Italian resort of Bormio January 29, 2005. Miller won the race ahead of Austria's Michael Walchhofer who placed second and Austria's Benjamin Raich who came in third position. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Bode Miller of the US skis with one ski only during the men's combined downhill at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Bormio. Bode Miller of the US skis with one ski only during the men's combined downhill at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Bormio February 3, 2005. Miller, the overall Ski World Cup leader did not finish the race. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Last year's ski World Cup overall championship winner Bode Miller of the U.S. talks during a news conference in the Tyrolean ski resort of Soelden, Austria October 20, 2005. The alpine ski World Cup starts on the Rettenbach-glacier in Soelden on Saturday. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler
Bode Miller of the U.S. leaves the start house during the first training run for the men's Olympic downhill race at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Sestriere, Italy, February 9, 2006. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Bode Miller of the U.S. passes a pole during the first slalom leg of the men's Olympic combined race at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Sestriere, Italy February 14, 2006. Miller was disqualified after straddling a gate in the first leg of the slalom. The leaderboard initially showed the American overall World Cup champion nearly one second ahead of Austrian world champion Benjamin Raich after the first leg but television replays showed he had straddled the 42nd gate and he was disqualified. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Bode Miller of the United States smiles in the finish area after the second day's training session in the Men's Downhill World Cup in Val Gardena, northern Italy December 14, 2006. Switzerland's Didier Cuche clocked the best time ahead of his team mate Ambrosi Hoffman. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (ITALY)
Bode Miller of the U.S. sits on the chair lift after the third practice of the men's Alpine skiing World Cup downhill race at the Lauberhorn in Wengen January 10, 2008. Miller finished on the first place ahead of Manuel Osborne Paradis of Canada and Klaus Kroell of Autria. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener (SWITZERLAND)
Bode Miller of the United States is airborne during the first practice for the Alpine Skiing World Cup downhill race in Kitzbuehel January 15, 2008. REUTERS/Michael Leckel(AUSTRIA)
Two-time skiing World Cup overall champion Bode Miller answers a question at a media conference in Los Angeles, California September 24, 2009. Miller announced he is rejoining the U.S. Ski Team and will compete on the Audi FIS World Cup in hope of qualifying in his fourth Olympic Winter Games. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES SPORT SKIING OLYMPICS)
Bronze medallist Bode Miller of the U.S. waves during the medal ceremony for the men's Alpine skiing downhill competition at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, February 15, 2010. REUTERS/Issei Kato (CANADA)
Bode Miller of the U.S. misses a gate during the first leg of the men's World Cup slalom skiing race in Val d'Isere, French Alps, December 12, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Pratta (FRANCE - Tags: SPORT SKIING)
U.S. skier Bode Miller attends a news conference in the Tyrolean ski resort of Soelden October 20, 2011. The alpine ski World Cup opens with a women's and a men's Giant slalom onBS the upcoming weekend in Soelden. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (AUSTRIA - Tags: SPORT SKIING HEADSHOT)
Bode Miller of the the U.S. skis during the men's Alpine Skiing World Cup Downhill race on the Kandahar course in Garmisch-Partenkirchen January 26, 2012. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SKIING)
Olympic alpine skier Bode Miller poses for a portrait during the 2013 U.S. Olympic Team Media Summit in Park City, Utah September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SKIING PORTRAIT)
Bode Miller of the U.S. goes airborne in the first training session for the men's alpine skiing downhill event during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT SKIING)
Bode Miller of the U.S. skis during the third training session for the men's alpine skiing downhill event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 8, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT SKIING)
Bode Miller (R) of the U.S. stands next to his wife Morgan after finishing the downhill run of the men's alpine skiing super combined event during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center in Rosa Khutor February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT SKIING)
Bode Miller of the U.S. speeds down in the men's Super G competition during the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup finals in the Swiss ski resort of Lenzerheide March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich (SWITZERLAND - Tags: SPORT SKIING)
Feb 5, 2015; Beaver Creek, CO, USA; Bode Miller of the United States kisses his wife Morgan Beck after crashing during the men's Super G in the FIS alpine skiing world championships at Birds of Prey Racecourse. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Olympic skier Bode Miller poses after an interview in New York June 15, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Former Olympic gold medal winner Alpine skier Bode Miller smiles during an interview in Innsbruck, Austria, January 3, 2018. REUTERS/Philip O'Connor
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