Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith paid tribute to his girlfriend, who died in a car accident Wednesday, on social media, saying, “God has a plan for all of us we can’t understand.”
Petara Cordero was killed after being struck by a car while the two were pulled over with a blown tire. Smith shared images and video of Cordero on his Instagram Friday.
“She is in a better place now and she can rest easy,” Smith captioned the post. “My wifey my best friend and the mother of my beautiful daughter. Love you baby.”
Just last month, Smith posted another picture of Cordero announcing the birth of their daughter Haven Harris Smith.
Cordero, 26, and Smith pulled over to the side of I-90 West in Cleveland around 2 a.m. Wednesday after a tire blew on Smith’s 2019 Lamborghini, according to a statement from the Cleveland Browns. The car veered left and hit the median, but she exited the car without injuries.
Shortly after, a woman in a 2017 Mazda 3 hit the passenger side of the car and Cordero, who was standing on the shoulder, Cleveland police said in a statement to CNN.
Police and paramedics arrived on scene shortly after.
Cordero was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The driver of the second car was also taken to the hospital and was released after receiving care.
A toxicology report is pending, but the woman admitted she had been drinking, police said. Smith was not impaired, police said.
The incident is under investigation, and no charges have been filed as of this time.
The Browns said players were notified during a team meeting. Head coach Freddie Kitchens also visited Smith at his home.
“Words cannot describe the sorrow we feel for Chris following the loss of his girlfriend, Petara,” team 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.”
The Browns will have counselors on site throughout the week to provide emotional support for players and staff.
Mary Cay Cabot of Cleveland.com says Cordero and Smith’s daughter was born four weeks ago. Smith was excused from the Browns’ preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts in August, so he could attend the birth of his daughter.
Smith, 27, was drafted in 2014 by the Jaguars. He has been with the Browns since last year.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Chris Smith's name. The article has been corrected.