CLEVELAND, OHIO - Petara Cordero, the girlfriend of Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith, was killed in a car accident Wednesday morning in Cleveland.
Authorities said 26-year-old Cordero, who was from Charlotte, was killed in a roadside accident that happened after her boyfriend's car spun out on Interstate 90.
Smith is from Salisbury.
The team said Cordero died when she was struck by an oncoming car on I-90 west at around 2 a.m. Wednesday. Cordero was a passenger in Smith’s Lamborghini, which had a tire malfunction before the crash, causing him to strike the median wall.
Cordero got out of the car and was standing on the road’s shoulder when a car driven by a 47-year-old woman smashed into the passenger side of the Lamborghini.
According to a Cleveland police report provided by the Browns, Cordero was taken to Fairview Hospital and pronounced dead.
Smith and Cordero recently celebrated the birth of a daughter, Haven Harris Smith.
Friends said Cordero was a ray of light.
“She just resonated positivity. She was very loving, very kind,” LaWan Adams said.
Cordero’s first job was at LaWan’s Soul Food on South Tryon Street.
“I saw her when she was six months pregnant,” Adams said. “She came through to show me her stomach, and she was just so excited to have a baby and in such a good place.”
Police said other the driver admitted drinking. No charges have been filed and toxicology reports are pending.
“I mean, everyone, even today, that’s been coming through has been talking about it and past staff, we’re all just heartbroken,” Adams said.
Smith was not impaired or injured, police said.
Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam offered their condolences to Smith, who signed as a free agent with the team last year. He played one season in Cincinnati and three in Jacksonville.
“Words cannot describe the sorrow we feel for Chris following the loss of his girlfriend, Petara,” the Haslams said. “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.”
Cleveland’s players were told of the accident during a meeting and coach Freddie Kitchens visited Smith at his home.
Smith had been excused from the team’s exhibition against Indianapolis last month for the baby’s arrival.
Smith played in Sunday’s season-opening loss to Tennessee. The Browns play at the New York Jets on Monday night.
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