Olympic skier Bode Miller and his wife, Morgan Beck, said in a new interview they are trying to live their lives “with purpose” months after their 19-month-old daughter’s drowning death.
The couple, who spoke Monday for the first time about the tragedy on NBC’s “Today” show, said they shared the tragic and painful details in hopes of preventing similar heartbreak for other parents.
“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,” Morgan said. “We have the choice to live our days with purpose, to make sure that no other parents had to feel what we’re feeling.”
The couple described visiting their neighbor’s home with their children on June 10 and the moment Morgan realized their daughter, Emmy, was missing. Morgan said she saw a sliver of light coming from the door leading to the backyard and said her “heart sank.”
“I opened the door and she was floating in the pool. And I ran and jumped in,” she recalled.
Morgan pulled Emmy out of the water and began CPR while her neighbor called 911.
Doctors initially told the couple their daughter might survive, but the outlook soon changed and the child died the next day.
“The doctor said her brain had just not had enough oxygen for too long of a time,” Bode recalled.
The last time Bode saw his daughter before the drowning, she was saying goodbye to him before he took their oldest daughter to a softball game.
“He was loading up the car when we got back and I gave him a kiss. And out of nowhere, [Emmy] leaned over and gave him another kiss. And we were so amused by her reaction because it was not typical of Emmy,” Morgan said. “So I kissed him again and she did it again and we laughed. Then I turned around and I walked inside and she waved and said 'bye' to her Dad.”
In the days following the tragic events, the couple learned that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children 1- to 4-years old.
The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to "never — even for a moment — leave children alone near open bodies of water, such as lakes or swimming pools, nor near water in homes (bathtubs, spas).”
“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, who are parents to two other children and are expecting another child this fall, said their new mission is to help others be more vigilant – all in memory of Emmy.
"It's an obligation to some degree,” Bode said. “I think it does, in some way, help to heal a little bit. That maybe we're preventing it from happening to somebody else.”