Bode Miller and his wife Morgan Beck Miller have a powerful warning for all parents after the tragic death of their 19-month-old daughter Emeline.
Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller and his wife Morgan, still struggling with the devastating loss of their 19-month-old daughter in a drowning accident, are using the tragedy to raise awareness about child safety around water.
The issue is particularly poignant in Arizona, where child drownings continue to outpace the national average and Drowning Prevention Month has started.
Emeline Miller drowned in an Orange County, California, pool in in June, despite paramedics’ attempts to revive her.
“We are beyond devastated,” Bodie Miller wrote in an Instagram post at the time. “Never in a million years did we think we would experience a pain like this.”
Three days into August’s Drowning Impact Awareness Month, Morgan Miller’s Friday Instagram post urges, “Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, Aunts and Uncles, EVERYONE…. to be aware of water and place as many barriers between your child and those bodies of water.”
How Arizona ranks
Children between the ages of 1 and 4 in Arizona are drowning at nearly two times the national rate, according to Tiffaney Isaacson, a senior injury prevention specialist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
The awareness month was established 15 years ago by the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
“The common theme is really parenting,” Isaacson said, noting nothing can replace adult supervision when it comes to a child’s safety near water.
Leaving children unattended near swimming pools is one of the biggest factors, she said.
At least 163 fatal drownings of children under the age of 15 occurred during the summer of 2017 across the nation, and Arizona was ranked fourth among states, according to the USA Swimming Foundation.
The Drowning Prevention of Coalition of Arizona, which compiles statistics on water-related incidents, reports there were 28 water-related deaths in Maricopa and Pinal counties this year through July 30. While most involved adults, nine were children 5 or under.
The Phoenix Fire Department demonstrates what to do if you see someone unresponsive in a pool.
Parents need to decide “who will be the boss of the pool at the poolside that day,” Isaacson said.
“It has to be an adult who is sober and who can swim. They should turn their cellphone off,” and switch supervising duties with another adult every 15 minutes.
Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Jake Van Hook said firefighters regularly see distressing drowning situations that could have been prevented.
“One parent was in the bedroom watching some television, the other was in the living room with the kids,” Van Hook said. “Neither realized that the child opened up the patio door and went into the pool. He did not survive.”
Both parents thought the child was with the other parent, he added.
Megan Miller, in an Instagram post, expressed the pain she feels every day:
“I often find myself wanting to reach into videos and pictures and just pull you out. Searching for ways to bring you back so our family is whole again.”
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