Cleveland Browns’ defensive end Chris Smith penned a touching message to his late girlfriend Petara Cordero after she was killed earlier this week when she was struck by a car.
“God has a plan for all of us we can’t understand but she is in a better place now and she can rest easy. My wifey my best friend and the mother of my beautiful daughter. Love you baby,” Smith wrote on Instagram Friday.
The post included several photos and videos of Cordero, along with images of her posing with Smith.
The 26-year-old, who had given birth to a baby girl named Haven in August, died Wednesday when she was hit by a car while she and Smith were standing on the shoulder of a highway in Cleveland following a crash involving the athlete’s car.
The couple was driving when a tire blew out on Smith’s Lamborghini, causing the vehicle to hit the center median, Cleveland police Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia told NBC News.
Smith, 27, and Cordero pulled over to the side of the highway and had exited the vehicle when a woman driving a Mazda struck the side of the Lamborghini and then hit Cordero.
Ciaccia said the woman driving the Mazda admitted she had been drinking and toxicology reports are pending. Cordero was pronounced dead at the hospital. Smith was not injured, Ciaccia said.
“This matter remains under investigation and no charges have been filed of this time,” she said.
In a statement earlier this week, the Browns said Smith may be excused from participating in team events as he grieves. Head coach Freddie Kitchens told Cleveland.com on Friday that Smith may try to play in Monday night’s game.
“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 on the Browns’ website. “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’s teammates told NBC affiliate WKYC in Cleveland that they are rallying around him. Left guard Joel Bitonio told the outlet that Cordero’s death was a “punch in the gut.”
“I think the whole team is thinking about him every chance we get. That is one of our brothers, and for him to be in that situation, I could not put myself in that situation,” he said.
“I was thinking about it last night, and I can only imagine where he is at right now,” wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. “We are all praying for him, his family and her family. Right now, we just have to pull together for him.”