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Morgan Miller's 'heart breaks' for Granger Smith after son's drowning

Miller, who lost her 1-year-old daughter to drowning, urged all parents to get their small children swim lessons in the wake of the latest tragic drowning death.
/ Source: TODAY

Morgan Miller knows the devastation that country star Granger Smith and his wife are feeling after the tragic drowning death of their 3-year-old son in the backyard swimming pool at their home.

Miller and her husband, Olympic skier Bode Miller, endured the same heartbreak last summer when their 19-month-old daughter, Emmy, drowned in a neighbor's pool.

She expressed her anguish at the Smiths' loss after Smith and his wife, Amber, posted the tragic news about their son, River Kelly, on Instagram and Twitter Thursday.

"My heart breaks,'' Miller wrote in her Instagram stories. "Another baby gone too soon. It can truly happen to anyone."

Granger Smith didn't share specific details about how their son died, writing that "following a tragic accident, and despite doctor's best efforts, he was unable to be revived."

A representative for Smith later confirmed to NBC News that the boy drowned in the pool at their Texas home.

"Our family is devastated and heartbroken, but we take solace in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father,'' Granger Smith wrote on Instagram. "Riv was special. Everyone that met him knew that immediately. The joy he brought to our lives cannot be expressed and his light will be forever in our hearts. If there are words to say more, I cannot find them in this moment.''

"Granger and I made the decision to say our last goodbyes and donate his organs so that other children will be given a second chance at life,'' Amber Smith wrote on Instagram.

As support for the couple poured in from fellow country music stars like Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, a new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released Thursday said drowning remains the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4.

There was an average of 363 pool- or spa-related child drownings per year from 2014-16 involving children younger than 15, with a high of 389 in 2016. During that year, 74% of the incidents involved children younger than 5, according to the report.

The report also identified June as the month with the highest fatality incident rate and found that 72% of the fatal drowning incidents during that month happened at residential locations. The Millers' daughter, Emmy, died on June 10, 2018, in a neighbor's pool.

The Millers have made it their mission to honor Emmy's death by promoting water safety for small children and urging parents to have their kids learn to swim as early as possible.

The couple has already gotten swim lessons for their 8-month-old son, Easton, who was born just four months after Emmy's death. He began learning to float at 6 months old and now can roll over on his own in the water.

"I urge you to make your babies safer,'' Miller wrote on her Instagram stories. "Sign them up for swim lessons."

The Millers opened up to Natalie Morales on TODAY in April about the healing joy of Easton's birth and their new purpose of helping other parents avoid tragedy.

"It's bittersweet,'' Morgan Miller said. "It is one of the most emotionally conflicting situations I think I've ever been in. And I love that we have the opportunity to change and show parents. Had I known then what I know now, this is what I would do, and let my mistake be yours. Learn from it. And we can move forward together as a community."

When it comes to keeping small children safe in and around water, the CPSC's Pool Safely initiative has six tips for parents.

  1. Never leave a child unattended in or near water.
  2. Teach children how to swim.
  3. Teach children how to stay away from drains.
  4. Check that all pools and spas in the backyard or in public places have compliant drain covers.
  5. Install a fence, cover and alarm around your pool or spa.
  6. Learn how to perform CPR.