CLEVELAND, Ohio — Petara Cordero, the girlfriend of Browns defensive end Chris Smith, was struck and killed early Wednesday morning in I-90 in Cleveland by a woman who told Cleveland police she had been drinking.
Smith and Cordero, who had a daughter Haven Harris Smith four weeks ago, went out Tuesday night because the players had the day off on Wednesday, but police said Smith was not impaired.
On Tuesday after practice, Smith told cleveland.com how excited he was that Petara and Haven flew up from Charlotte, N.C. to see him this weekend. He expressed how blessed and grateful he was to have Petara and Haven in his life, along with his two older children from a previous relationship, and how happy he was.
“Words cannot describe the sorrow we feel for Chris following the loss of his girlfriend, Petara,” 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.”
Browns players were notified of the tragedy during a team meeting Wednesday morning. Browns coach Freddie Kitchens visited Smith at his home earlier in the day, and a source told cleveland.com that teammates, including Baker Mayfield, with whom Smith is close, visited him throughout the day.
A team favorite, Smith has many close friends among the players such as team captain Christian Kirksey and is like a big brother to some of then, including fellow defensive end Genard Avery. News of the tragedy has rocked the team as it prepares for a Monday night matchup against the Jets.
The 47-year-old woman who struck Cordero at about 2 a.m. told Cleveland police officers she’d been drinking before the fatal crash, police said. Investigators are awaiting the results of toxicology tests to determine whether the woman’s blood-alcohol content was over the legal limit for driving of 0.08 percent.
The woman had not been charged in the incident by Wednesday afternoon, police said. She was released from custody after receiving medical treatment at Fairview Hospital.
Smith and Cordero were heading west on on I-90 near the West 140th Street Exit Ramp in his 2019 2019 Lamborghini. Smith told police that a tire on his vehicle blew out which caused the vehicle to veer left and strike the center median wall. Smith and Petara exited the vehicle and were standing on the north shoulder of Interstate 90 West.
A short time later, the woman in a 2017 Mazda 3 approached the disabled Lamborghini. The Mazda veered to the right side of it, striking the open passenger side doors and then Cordero.
Cordero was taken to Fairview Hospital by Cleveland EMS where she was pronounced dead.
The female driver of the Mazda was transported to Fairview Hospital by Cleveland EMS where she was being treated and was to be released.
This matter remains under investigation and no charges have been filed as of this time.
In addition to the team’s standard in-house resources, the Browns will have counselors onsite throughout the week to provide emotional support and care to all players and staff.
Smith was excused from the Browns-Colts preseason game Aug. 17 so could attend Haven’s birth. According to Browns, Smith will receive the full team’s support of resources and will have the opportunity to grieve as he sees best fit, including being excused from or participating in any team activities, if desired.
Cleveland.com reporter Evan Macdonald contributed to this report
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