Girlfriend of Cleveland Browns' Chris Smith killed after being struck by car

"Our entire organization mourns," the Browns owners said. Petara Cordero and Smith were pulled over to the side of a highway in Cleveland during the accident.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith.Ron Schwane / AP file

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By Minyvonne Burke

The girlfriend of Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith was killed early Wednesday morning when she was struck by a car.

Smith and his girlfriend, Petara Cordero, were traveling on a Cleveland highway when a tire malfunction caused Smith's vehicle to spin out of control and hit a median, according to the team.

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The couple pulled over to the side of the highway and had exited the vehicle when an oncoming vehicle struck and killed Cordero. Police said in a statement that Smith was not impaired at the time of the crash, according to the Browns.

The woman driving the Mazda 3 that hit Cordero admitted to authorities she had been drinking, reports WKYC in Cleveland. Police are still waiting for toxicology results.

"Words cannot describe the sorrow we feel for Chris following the loss of his girlfriend, Petara,” said the team's owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam 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."

Smith, 27, and Cordero, 26, welcomed a baby girl named Haven Harris Smith in August, according to the Browns. The defensive end celebrated the special moment with an Instagram post dedicated to Cordero and their daughter.

"I’m so thankful to have another beautiful gift in this world my daughter Haven Harris Smith. You are such a blessing to me and your mother!! Love you Petara and Baby Haven," he captioned three photos of the mother and baby.

Smith's teammates were informed about the tragic accident during a meeting Wednesday morning. The Browns said Smith "will have the opportunity to grieve as he sees best fit" and may be excused from participating in any team events.