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 choked to death while drunk.
Dax Tejera, 37, died two days before Christmas while spending the holidays in New York City with his family.
Hours later, his wife, Veronica Tejera, was arrested on child endangerment charges after it emerged the couple had left their children, aged two years old and five months old, in their hotel room.
The couple were staying at the exclusive Yale Club, just a few minutes’ walk from the steakhouse, when Tejera died. Staff at the club had called police after they realized the children were left alone for several hours while the couple had dinner.
The New York City’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that Tejera choked on food due to being intoxicated.
Dax Tejera, pictured with his children and wife Veronica, died on December 23 after he choked at a Manhattan steakhouse. Veronica was arrested after it emerged the couple had left their daughters, aged two years old and five months old, alone in a hotel room while they had 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: ‘Asphyxia due to obstruction of airway 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 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 collect the children.
But Yale Club staff called police at around 11pm, after they discovered the children had been left unattended for at least two hours.
Veronica was arrested by the NYPD at around 12.20am and charged with two counts of ‘acting in a manner injurious to a child’. The children, who were unharmed, were left with their grandmother.
The couple left their daughters alone for at least two hours while the enjoyed dinner at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse at 230 Park Avenue, in Manhattan, about a block away from the Yale Club. Pictured left: the entrance to the steakhouse. Pictured right: Dax and Veronica in 2018
Tejera with ABC colleagues at a meeting with President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden
Veronica was released from custody shortly after 4am. She has admitted it was a ‘poor decision’ to leave their daughters on their own.
Police said the children were ‘left alone inside of a hotel room for an extended period of time’. Veronica, a senior producer at the Washington Post, has insisted the couple ‘had two cameras trained’ on the children as they slept.
She was charged with two counts of ‘acting in a manner injurious to a child’ and given a desk ticket which required her to appear in court at a future date, police said. The NYPD said on Wednesday afternoon that no further information was available on the case.
Bobby Van’s – where a steak dinner and drinks is around $200-a-head – is around a block away from the Yale Club.
The couple were celebrating 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 ‘acting in a manner injurious to a child’
The couple were enjoying dinner at Bobby Van’s on December 23 during a stay in New York City for the holidays
The NYPD said it received a 911 call at 11pm on December 23 over ‘unattended children’ at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue in Manhattan, home of the members-only Yale Club.
They discovered ‘a two-year-old female and a five-month-old female were left alone inside of a hotel room for an extended period of time’.
The Yale Club is an exclusive club for alumni of Yale University. It includes guest rooms that range from budget studios to luxury 556 sq ft suites.
The club also has luxury rooms for weddings and private events, along with 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 spent nearly six years at CNN. Her profile states that her achievements there include producing an interview with President Joe Biden on The Lead with Jake Tapper.
Tejera with Katie Couric and Jorge Ramos at the Republican National Convention in 2016
She launched a fundraiser for the Tejera children’s 529 college account after her husband’s death. The page says: ‘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 led tributes to the producer following his death.
Tejera had worked at ABC since 2017, when he started as a Senior Producer at the network’s Washington DC bureau
Good Morning America correspondent Gio Benitez said in one touching Instagram post: ‘As you celebrate Christmas Eve with your families, please hold 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 devoted father to two beautiful little girls, Sofia and Ella.
‘Dax was a champion for so many at ABC News, leading the way on groundbreaking television specials.’
Benitez posted a photo of the pair at The White House, explaining that it had been taken after interviewing Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre ‘for a first-of-its-kind broadcast network Pride special’.
‘We often connected on being exactly the same age: 37. Far too young to now be gone. We will miss you deeply, Dax. Godspeed, my friend,’ Benitez wrote.
Cecilia Vega posted her own tribute, writing alongside a photo of Tejera: ‘Your smile. Your laugh. Your dedication. Your profound love of Veronica and your beautiful daughters. Your pride in your work. The way you looked out for the next generation and fought to pave the way for Latinos coming up.
Tributes to the 37-year-old father-of-two were led by journalists and former colleagues
‘The way you broke barriers yourself. The way you always cheered me on and believed in me. Your dapper Miami style and the fact that even on the coldest of cold days you never wore socks. Dax Tejera, you are gone too soon.
‘We will miss everything about you. Your familia were so lucky to have you. Your legacy lives on in all those you championed and cheered.’
Tejera had worked at ABC since 2017, when he started as a Senior Producer at the network’s Washington DC bureau.
He previously worked at NBC and held degrees from both Dartmouth and Columbia.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk