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A 37-year-old ABC News producer who was reported to have died of a heart attack last year actually died from choking while drunk, according to a medical examiner’s report.
The death of Dax Tejera, the executive producer of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” was widely reported last Christmas after ABC News President Kim Goodwin said he died of a heart attack. But New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner told the New York Post on Wednesday the real cause of the young producer’s death was “asphyxia due to obstruction of airway by food bolus complicating acute alcohol intoxication.”
Tejera was at Bobby Van’s 230Park in New York City for a dinner with friends the night of his death, reports the Post. When the meals arrived, however, Tejera allegedly got up from his seat, walked outside, and fell.
“The server said that he collapsed in the corner, right here outside the restaurant,” an employee of the restaurant reportedly told the Post. “It was terrible.”
His wife, Veronica, was arrested hours after his death for child endangerment, with police saying the couple left their two daughters — a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old — in a hotel room for an “extended period of time,” reports Variety. Veronica defended herself, saying she asked her parents to watch her kids while she was at the hospital, but the hotel wouldn’t let them in.
“We had two cameras trained on my children as they slept, and I monitored them closely in the time I was away from them,” she told the Post. “While the girls were unharmed, I realize that it was a poor decision.”
Tejera joined ABC News in 2017 after stints at NBC News, MSNBC, and Fusion. He started to lead “This Week,” a Sunday morning talk show anchored by George Stephanopoulos, near the start of the COVID pandemic, per Media Moves.
Rachel Scott, a congressional correspondent for ABC News, said Tejera’s death “has left us shocked and hurt.”
“As EP of ‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos’ Dax’s energy, passion, and love for that show, ABC News, and you, shined every Sunday morning,” Godwin said. “That same love was extended to his precious girls.”
Godwin added: “Our thoughts are with his wife, Veronica, the couple’s two young daughters, and the entire Tejera family.”
Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report.