New details are emerging about ABC producer Dax Tejera and wife Veronica Tejera, who are accused of leaving their two daughters alone inside their room at a Manhattan hotel on December 23. Now, sources are saying the couple actually left the children unsupervised for hours so they could have dinner with friends at a nearby steakhouse before Dax suffered a fatal heart attack.
Veronica Tejera, 33, was arrested hours after her husband’s sudden death at just 37 years old. She was later charged with two counts of “acting in a manner injurious to a child” after the couple reportedly left the girls, who are 5 months and 2 years old, alone at the Yale Club at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue, police said, according to the New York Post.
In a statement issued Monday, Veronica Tejera said she accompanied her husband to the hospital and asked her parents and a close friend to come to the hotel to watch the young girls as she monitored via video them as they slept.
Veronica Tejera claims the members-only club would not allow her friend to be with the children and instead notified police.
“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,” she explained in a statement obtained by the newspaper.
According to police sources, however, the young girls had been left alone for an extended period of time because the couple left around 8 p.m. to have dinner with another couple at nearby steakhouse Bobby Van’s 230 Park. The well-known eatery is just around the corner from the Yale Club, the Daily Mail reported.
The group was having dinner when a server noticed Dax appeared unwell, an unnamed employee at the steakhouse told the Post Tuesday.
The Tejeras didn’t stay much longer after the late producer began showing signs of distress.
“So, before anyone ate, just after the server brought the orders, he asked, ‘Are you ok sir?’” the staffer told the newspaper.
The 37-year-old then “got up and started walking like he was going to the men’s room, but he made a right instead and went out the front door and the server followed him outside,” he added.
“The server said that he collapsed in the corner, right here outside the restaurant,” the employee said.
Veronica Tejera reportedly asked her friends to check on the girls at the hotel as she rushed her husband to the hospital.
When the other couple arrived at the hotel to check on the children, staff members learned they had been left unattended and called the police to notify them about 11 p.m. The girls’ mother had left her phone inside the room and says she used a video monitor and her husband’s phone to keep an eye on the girls while they were out.
“We had two cameras trained on my children as they slept, and I monitored them closely in the time I was away from them. While the girls were unharmed, I realize that it was a poor decision,” Veronica Tejera admitted in her statement.
“My family and I are devastated by Dax’s sudden passing. He has left behind a heartbroken family, and two daughters he loved with all his heart,” she noted in the statement via the Daily Mail. “Our family has suffered a terrible tragedy. I respectfully ask for privacy while my children and I mourn Dax’s death.”
She was issued a ticket to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court on January 12.
According to the Daily Mail, Veronica Tejera’s LinkedIn profile lists her as a senior producer with the Washington Post. She lives in Maryland, Delaware.
Her husband was a producer on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. The beloved producer’s death was announced in an internal email by ABC News’ president, Kim Godwin.
“Our thoughts are with his wife, Veronica, the couple’s two young daughters, and the entire Tejera family,” Goodwin wrote in the statement obtained by the Daily Mail.
Tejera also worked at NBC for five years and graduated from Dartmouth and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.