A high-flying ABC news producer who died outside a Bobby Van’s steakhouse in Manhattan after enjoying a meal with his wife while their young daughters were left alone in a hotel room, suffocated to death while drunk.
Dax Tejera, 37, died two days before Christmas while spending the holidays in New York City with his family. His bosses at ABC previously attributed his death to a heart attack.
Hours later, his wife, Veronica Tejera, was arrested on child endangerment charges after the couple was found to have left their two-year-old and five-month-old children in their hotel room.
The couple were staying at the exclusive Yale Club, just a few minutes’ walk from the steakhouse, when Tejera died. Club staff had called the police after realizing the children had been left alone for several hours while the couple had dinner.
The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that Tejera choked on food because he was drunk.
Dax Tejera, pictured with his children and wife Veronica, died on Dec. 23 after choking to death at a Manhattan steakhouse. Veronica was arrested after it emerged that the couple had left their two-year-old and five-month-old daughters alone in a hotel room while they ate dinner
Tejera and his wife, Veronica, pictured together, were out for dinner in New York City while their children were left alone at the Yale Club
The official cause of death was given as: “Asuffocation from airway obstruction by food bolus complicating acute alcohol intoxication.”
News of his death was first shared by ABC News president Kim Godwin, who said Tejera “died suddenly of a heart attack.”
The producer had collapsed and was rushed to Bellevue Hospital after the incident, but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Veronica, 33, had traveled in the ambulance with her husband while the couple’s friends went to the Yale Club to pick up the kids.
But Yale Club staff called police around 11 p.m. after discovering the children had been left unattended for at least two hours.
Veronica was arrested by the NYPD around 12:20 a.m. and charged with two counts of “acting in a way that hurts a child.” The children, who were unharmed, were left with their grandmother.
The couple left their daughters alone for at least two hours while they enjoyed dinner at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse at 230 Park Avenue, in Manhattan, about a block from the Yale Club. Left in the photo: the entrance to the steakhouse. Pictured right: Dax and Veronica in 2018
Tejera with ABC colleagues during a meeting with President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden
Veronica was released shortly after 4 a.m. She has admitted that it was a “bad decision” to leave their daughters alone.
According to the police, the children were left alone in a hotel room for a long time. Veronica, a senior producer at the Washington Post, has insisted that the pair had “two cameras pointed” at the children as they slept.
She was charged with two counts of “acting in a way that is harmful to a child” and was given a desk ticket requiring her to appear in court at a future date, police said. The NYPD said Wednesday afternoon that no further information was available on the case.
Bobby Van’s – where a steak dinner and drinks cost around $200 per person – is about a block from the Yale Club.
The couple celebrated the holidays in New York and had plans to visit friends and go to Rockefeller Center, it is understood.
Dax and Veronica Tejera left their children alone in their room at the Yale Club for at least two hours while they dined at Bobby Van’s. Veronica was arrested by police for ‘behaving in a way that hurts a child’
The couple enjoyed dinner at Bobby Van’s on Dec. 23 while staying in New York City for the holiday season
The NYPD said it received an 911 call about “unattended children” at 11 p.m. Dec. 23 at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue in Manhattan, home of the members-only Yale Club.
They found that “a two-year-old female and a five-month-old female were left alone in a hotel room for a long time.”
The Yale Club is an exclusive club for Yale University alumni. It includes rooms ranging from budget studios to 55 m² luxury suites.
The club also has luxury rooms for weddings and private events, as well as fitness facilities and a library.
Veronica’s LinkedIn profile recently listed her as a senior producer at the Washington Post, which she joined in October 2022. Before that, she worked at CNN for nearly six years. Her profile states that she produced, among other things, an interview with President Joe Biden on The Lead with Jake Tapper.
Tejera with Katie Couric and Jorge Ramos at the 2016 Republican National Convention
She launched a fundraiser for the Tejera children’s 529 account after her husband’s death. The page reads: “Dax Tejera passed away suddenly, leaving 2-year-old Sofia and 6-month-old Ella without their father. Please support the girl’s education.”
Tejera’s colleagues paid tribute to the producer after his death.
Tejera has been with ABC since 2017, when he started as a Senior Producer at the network’s Washington DC office
Good Morning America correspondent Gio Benitez said in a moving Instagram post, “As you celebrate Christmas Eve with your family, please keep Dax Tejera’s family in your thoughts and prayers.
“He was the executive producer of This Week ABC, a friend to all of us, and—most importantly—a loving husband to Veronica and a devoted father to two beautiful little girls, Sofia and Ella.
“Dax was a champion to so many at ABC News, leading the way with groundbreaking television specials.”
Benitez posted a photo of the pair at The White House, explaining that it was taken after an interview with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre “for a first of its kind Pride special.”
‘We often agreed that we were exactly the same age: 37. Way too young to be gone now. We will miss you very much, Dax. Godspeed, my friend,” Benitez wrote.
Cecilia Vega posted her own tribute, writing alongside a photo of Tejera, “You smile. Your laugh. Your dedication. Your deep love for Veronica and your beautiful daughters. You take pride in your work. The way you looked out for the next generation and fought to pave the way for Latinos to emerge.
Tributes to the 37-year-old father of two were led by journalists and former colleagues
‘The way you broke through barriers yourself. As you always encouraged me and believed in me. Your proper Miami style and the fact that you never wore socks even on the coldest cold days. Dax Tejera, you have gone too soon.
“We’ll miss everything about you. Your family was so lucky to have you. Your legacy lives on in all those you championed and applauded.”
Tejera had been with ABC since 2017, when he started as a Senior Producer at the network’s Washington DC office.
He previously worked at NBC and holds degrees from both Dartmouth and Columbia.