In June 2018 a normal day for the Millers ended in tragedy when their little girl, Emeline, slipped unnoticed out of a back door. The 19-month-old daughter of former Olympic skier Bode Miller and his wife, Morgan, subsequently drowned in their neighbor’s swimming pool. And now Morgan has shared her poignant final moments with Emeline – including the heartbreaking promise that she made to her child.
Usually, of course, Bode Miller makes headlines for much more upbeat reasons. He is, after all, the most successful alpine skier in U.S. sporting history. No American has actually won more Olympic medals in the sport than Bode: one gold, two bronze and three silver. And in 2014 he became the oldest skiing medal-winner in Olympic history.
Bode then retired from the sport in 2017 and went on to find success as a sports commentator. In his personal life, too, Bode triumphed when he married Emmy’s mother, previously Morgan Beck, in 2012. The ex-skier now has two sons with the volleyball player as well as two other children from his previous relationships.
And on Valentine’s Day in 2017 the Millers took their little family to Switzerland. The pair later posted pictures on Instagram of their son confidently navigating the slopes. One image also showed Bode pushing the then three-month-old Emmy down an incline in her baby carrier. So it would seem that they were one happy family.
However, in June 2018 the Millers’ happiness was to be cut tragically short. Without Morgan noticing, you see, Emmy went through an open door into the backyard of a neighbor’s house in Coto de Caza, California. Morgan, who later found Emmy floating in a nearby pool, subsequently recounted the horrible sinking feeling that she had when realizing her daughter had gone missing.
“We’re in mid-conversation, and I stood up,” Morgan told Today in July 2018. “And I turned, and I went right to where the boys were, and I said, ‘Where’s Emmy?’ My heart sank, and I opened the door, and she was floating in the pool.”
Morgan said she then jumped in and lifted her daughter out. A call was made to the emergency services in a desperate bid to try to save the young child, too. There followed frantic exchanges with the call-handler at the Orange County Fire Authority as the caller attempted to revive the toddler.
The 911 call, which the emergency services since released to the media, reveals how Morgan and her neighbors try to follow instructions from the male call handler to make Emmy breathe again. The man then talks them through how to try to save Emmy for several minutes before the crew arrives.
“Is she breathing yet? Does she have a pulse?” the man taking the 911 call asks time and time again. “Keep rolling her on her side to get it all cleared out, and then roll her on her back and breathe for her again.” In the background, the desperate efforts to resuscitate Emmy can be heard before eventually the siren of the approaching crew sounds out in the backyard.
During the call, a man trying to save Emmy is heard shouting that they need oxygen. The same man also pleads for assistance, asking if help is coming. The crews arrived just five minutes after the call was first made, and Emmy was taken to nearby Mission Hospital. Unfortunately, however, she couldn’t be saved.
In an Instagram statement on June 12, 2018, Bode wrote that his family was “beyond devastated” by the loss of Emmy. Bode added, “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.”
Morgan tearfully recounted the terrible accident during an interview with CNN. “There is not a day goes by that I don’t pray for the opportunity to go back to that day,” she said. Yet in the aftermath of the tragedy, the couple had found out about the alarming statistics for child water deaths. And they told viewers that they’d been spurred on to try to help spare others from similar anguish.
Drowning is in fact the biggest cause of death in children aged one to four after birth defects, a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention concluded. “It’s an obligation to some degree. I think in some way it does help to heal a little bit that maybe we are preventing it from happening to somebody else,” Bode explained to Today. Morgan added, “We have a choice to live our lives with purpose to make sure that no other parents have to feel what we are feeling.”
Jim Spiers, president of the organization Stop Drowning Now, was a guest on CNN in the wake of Emmy’s tragic downing. Spiers also warned people to be vigilant all year round, stating that 4,200 people will pass away due to a water death during 2018 in America. That works out as more than ten people each day.
In the interview, Spiers advised that a child should be taught to swim. He also said a pool should always be supervised by a watchful adult who isn’t distracted by a gadget. Pools ought to have a locked gate or fence around them, too, he told the news program. And if an accident does happen, he added, parents should be trained in safe response and CPR.
The Millers have naturally received sympathy from all round the globe for their loss. And both parents have used their Instagram feeds to post pictures of their daughter in happier times. Posted in June 2018, one pic of Emmy and her mother wearing matching white puffer jackets is captioned: “We are inspired to make our baby girl’s memory go forth and help prevent as many drownings as possible.”
This attracted in excess of 17,000 likes and many messages of support from Morgan’s followers. For example, Leheakins wrote, “I admire your strength getting the word out and sharing your story with other parents on the dangers of small children gaining access to pools! I’m sure your little angel is now watching over her Mommy & Daddy!”
However, Morgan’s post in August 2018 that detailed her final farewell to her daughter while Emmy slipped away in hospital perhaps had the biggest impact. In it, Morgan wrote that she promised the toddler that despite Emmy’s death her “footprint” will remain on the Earth forever, as little Emmy “works through” Morgan to help others.
“I wish I could have one more day to hold you, but until that day comes, continue to work through me and give me the strength to bring awareness, my love,” Morgan wrote. “I told you as I held you in this moment that you could still change the world, you could still move mountains. Every step we take forward is because of you and Levi.”
And it appears that Emmy’s legacy is already taking effect. Under the heartbreaking image of Emmy, Adi Nelson wrote, “I can’t even imagine what you guys have been going through. You guys opened my eyes, and [I] took my little one to swimfloatswim lessons. My heart goes to you all.”