An ABC news producer, who died outside a plush restaurant in Manhattan after enjoying a meal with his wife while they left their young daughters alone in a hotel room, choked to his death while he was drunk, officials revealed on Wednesday. Dax Tejera, 37, died outside Bobby Van's steakhouse minutes after finishing his meal while his wife watched in shock.
ABC previously attributed his death to a heart attack. However, the New York City's Office of Chief Medical Examiner has now confirmed that the official cause of Tejera's death was "asphyxia due to obstruction of airway by food bolus complicating acute alcohol intoxication" and he didn't die from a heart attack.
Died from Choking
Tajera, who was the executive producer of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" was in New York with his family celebrating the holidays when he suddenly died on December 23, two days before Christmas. ABC News president Kim Godwin had earlier said that he died of a heart attack.
However, the cause was completely different and it has now been revealed that he choked to his death because he was too drunk.
The couple was staying at the upscale Yale Club, which is just a short stroll from the steakhouse when Tejera died. When club staff realized the kids had been left alone for several hours while the couple enjoyed dinner, they alerted the police.
Hours later, his wife, Veronica Tejera, was arrested on suspicion of endangering the welfare of a child after it was discovered that the couple had left their two-year-old and five-month-old daughters in their hotel room.
Tejera had collapsed and was sent to Bellevue Hospital as a result of the event, but she was already dead when she got there.
Veronica disputed the allegations, claiming that she accompanied her husband to the hospital and asked her parents and a close friend to watch their 5-month-old and 2-year-old on video, while she monitored them on camera.
"The hotel would not allow my friend in and instead called the NYPD," she said in a statement after her arrest.
The children were unharmed and left with their grandmother.
Veronica was released from police custody shortly around 4 am. She has acknowledged that leaving their girls alone was a "bad decision." According to the police, the kids were "left alone in a hotel room for an extended period of time."
Veronica has stated that the parents "had two cameras trained" on the kids while they slept. She received a desk ticket that required her to appear in court at a later date and was charged with two counts of "acting in a manner injurious to a child," according to the police. On Wednesday afternoon, the NYPD stated that there was no new information on the case.
According to reports, the couple planned to visit friends, go to Rockefeller Center, and celebrate the holidays in New York before the tragedy struck. According to the NYPD, the members-only Yale Club at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue in Manhattan received a 911 call about "unattended children" at 11 pm on December 23.
They found a two-year-old girl and a five-month-old girl were found to have been abandoned in a hotel room for an extended length of time
The Yale Club is a private club for Yale University graduates. It has guest accommodations ranging from modest studios to lavish 556-square-foot suites.
Veronica's most recent LinkedIn profile shows that she started working as a senior producer at the Washington Post on October 20, 2022. She worked for CNN for over six years prior to that.
According to her resume, among her achievements, there was the creation of an interview with President Joe Biden for Jake Tapper's The Lead.
After her husband's death, she started a campaign for the Tejera children's 529 college account. According to the post, Dax Tejera passed away, leaving 2-year-old Sofia and 6-month-old Ella without their father. Please support the girl's education."
Tejera began working for ABC News as a senior producer in 2017. In February 2020, he switched over to Stephanopoulos' show. He earned his history degree from Dartmouth College and his journalism graduate degree from Columbia University, and he had previously worked for NBC News.