Olympic champion skier Bode Miller and his wife Morgan Beck have told of the moment they discovered their 19-month-old daughter had drowned.
The couple lost their daughter Emeline “Emmy” in June after she fell into a neighbour’s pool.
“It was a normal day,” Ms Miller told NBC News’ Today show, who said that his children were regular visitors to the friends who were “like family to us.”
Shortly before Bode took his eldest daughter Neesyn Dace to a softball game, he said Emmy kissed him and said goodbye.
This was “not typical of Emmy”, he said.
Ms Miller then took the kids to their neighbours.
“All of the sudden, it was just too quiet for me,” she 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’s Emmy?’”
She soon realised the door to the back yard was open.
“My heart sank and I opened the door and she was floating in the pool. And I ran and jumped in,” she said.
After pulling her toddler daughter out of the water, Miller performed CPR while her neighbour called the emergency services. At the hospital, doctors originally told the Millers their daughter’s chance of survival was likely.
However, it soon became clear that Emmy’s brain had been starved of oxygen for too long.
Shortly afterwards, the couple learned drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children aged one to four.
They lost Emmy even though they had taken the proper precautions, including enrolling their children in drowning prevention classes and having a fence installed around their pool.
“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,” Ms Miller said.
Bode added that part of the reason they shared their story is the hope that “maybe we’re preventing it from happening to somebody else.”
In 2004, drowning resulted in 175,000 deaths in children and youth under the age of 19, according to the World Health Organisation.
To prevent unintentional drowning, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to “never – even for a moment – leave children alone near open bodies of water.”
Parents are also advised to install fences around pools and to have knowledge of basic CPR and life-saving skills.
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