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.

Morgan and Bode Miller, at the Kentucky Derby in 2016, are opening up about the death of their daughter, who drowned in June. (Photo: Getty Images)
Morgan and Bode Miller, at the Kentucky Derby in 2016, are opening up about the death of their daughter, who drowned in June. (Photo: Getty Images)

“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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