Dax Tejera’s Cause of Death Revealed

Dax Tejera, an executive producer of this Week on ABC who died in December, choked to death while intoxicated, according to officials.

Tejera, 37, died on Dec. 23 from “asphyxia due to obstruction of airway by food bolus complicating acute alcohol intoxication,” the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner confirmed to PEOPLE.

The death was accidental, the office said.

In December, a memo from ABC News president Kim Godwin that was shared with staff previously said Tejera died from a heart attack.

ABC News had no further comment when reached by PEOPLE on Wednesday.

Tejera is survived by his wife Veronica Tejera, 33, and their 2-year-old Sofia and 7-month-old Ella.

The same night as Tejera’s death, officers were called to the hotel he and Veronica were staying at near Grand Central Terminal regarding unattended children.

Dax Tejera with his wife, Veronica, and two young daughters.
Stephanie Honikel

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Veronica was arrested for two counts of “acting in a manner injurious to a child,” the New York Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner Public Information Office tells PEOPLE.

The agency said the two young girls were left alone in a hotel room for an extended period.

Veronica’s attorney Phillip C. Hamilton did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment late Wednesday.

However, Veronica spoke to Entertainment Tonight about the incident last month.

In a statement, the mother of two said she made a “poor decision” leaving the children alone.

“When Dax collapsed on December 23rd, I accompanied him in an ambulance to the hospital. I asked both a close friend and my parents to rush to my children’s hotel room to attend to them as I monitored them by camera. The hotel would not allow my friend in and instead called the NYPD,” the statement said. “We had two cameras trained on my children as they slept, and I closely monitored them the time I was away from them. While the girls were unharmed, I realized that it was a poor decision.”

“Our family has suffered a terrible tragedy. I respectfully ask for privacy while my children and I mourn Dax’s death,” Veronica added.

Tejera served as a producer on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

In the nearly three years since taking over the show, Tejera turned the once-straggling political broadcast into a Sunday morning sensation.

Tejera’s position at the program started just before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, three years after he joined ABC News in 2017 as a senior producer, per The Hollywood Reporter. Prior to that, he worked as an executive producer for Jorge Ramos’ program on Fusion and as a producer at MSNBC.

“Despite his age, he was already one of the most talented news producers in America,” Univision anchor Jorge Ramos previously told PEOPLE of his former colleague. “Nothing seemed impossible for him.”