In June, Winter Olympian Bode Miller and his wife, Morgan Miller, lost their 19-month-old daughter, Emmy Miller—and Nicole Hughes lost her 3-year-old son, Levi Hughes, in a similar drowning accident the same day. The three parents united on CBS This Morning Monday to spread the word for other parents, in the hopes of preventing similar tragedies from occurring.
(Bode and Morgan gave their first interview about Emmy’s death last month on NBC’s Today.)
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children under 4, and 350 children under the age of 5 drown in pools each year nationwide. “Just knowledge alone is a really powerful tool,” Bode said, adding, “These drownings are happening not during swim time. I think, as a parent, those little tidbits of knowledge are things we can share with each other. And once it becomes something everyone’s aware of, we can really prevent these kinds of tragedies. At the end of the day, what happened to us is horrible for us—and I think a lot of people shared our pain in that—but we want to try to not make it happen to other people.”
Like many parents, whenever they would hear about another person’s family tragedy, they would think, “It will never happen to me.” But, as Nicole learned, “Tragedy does not play fair.”
Morgan estimated “hundreds of people” have reached out to them since Emmy’s death, many of whom would say, “I put my child down for a nap. That was the last time I saw my child alive.” Morgan reminded viewers children are naturally “curious,” and they can easily find their way to water. For parents—herself included—”if you don’t have that visual stimulant of water, it’s almost like out of sight, out of mind.” So, even if the kids aren’t swimming, “It can still happen.”
Recently, Bode began teaching his 3-year-old son, Nash Miller, “self-rescue techniques” in the family pool. “Removing the stigma is part of changing the conversation. We have people who come up to us, who…it’s hard to address. They don’t know what to say, and they don’t want to cause you more pain, and they don’t want to dodge around the subject. The fact is, breaking that stigma and making it a conversation you can have with parents who have unfortunately experienced it firsthand is, I think, one of those important steps,” the athlete said. Bode said befriending people who have also “gone through it,” like Nicole, opens up the conversation. “Laughing and joking doesn’t mean it’s gone,” Bode said. “It just means it’s part of our life now.”
Now, Morgan and Nicole are each other’s confidantes. “It’s horrible, because we would not have met without losing our babies, so obviously there’s that horrific part of it,” Nicole said. “But to be able to have this connection, to have this reminder of the goodness that is still in the world, through this relationship, through this friendship with both of them—it’s been a lifeline.”