Heartbreaking news out of the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday.
Petara Cordero, the girlfriend of veteran defensive end Chris Smith, was struck and killed on I-90 in Cleveland as the couple stood on the side of the highway after a tire blew out on the car they were driving in.
Smith and Cordero had just welcomed daughter Haven Harris Smith four weeks ago.
The 47-year-old woman who struck Cordero told police she had been drinking, but as of this writing she had not been charged; investigators are awaiting a toxicology report to see if her blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit of 0.08.
The couple went out Tuesday night, as Browns players had Wednesday off. Police said Smith, who was driving when a tire blew out on his sports car, was not impaired. When the tire blew out, Smith said the car veered and they struck the center median; they couple exited the vehicle and were standing on the shoulder when the woman approached their car, striking the passenger door and then Cordero.
Earlier Tuesday, Smith told cleveland.com how excited he was that Petara and Haven had flown up from Charlotte to see him this weekend, saying that he was blessed and grateful to have them in his life along with his two children from a previous relationship, and sharing how happy he was.
“Words cannot describe the sorrow we feel for Chris following the loss of his girlfriend, Petara,” Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. “Our entire organization mourns with Chris, his family and the Cordero family. We will do everything possible to offer them our support, comfort and any resources in this most difficult time.”
Players were informed of the tragedy during a team meeting on Wednesday morning; Browns coach Freddie Kitchens visited Smith at his home earlier Wednesday and teammates have been visiting as well, cleveland.com reported. Smith is one of the best-liked players on the team.
The Browns will have counselors at the team facility this week to provide emotional support and care to players and staff, in addition to their usual in-house resources.