Mum-of-eight dies in horror M25 crash while on way to 40th birthday holiday as tributes pour in for 'beautiful nana'

10 February 2024, 15:33 | Updated: 10 February 2024, 15:49

Zoe Hawes died in a crash on the M25
Zoe Hawes died in a crash on the M25. Picture: GoFundMe/Social media

By Emma Soteriou

A mother-of-eight has died during a horror M25 crash while heading on holiday to celebrate her 40th birthday.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Zoe Hawes, from Canvey Island, was killed in the collision at around 4am on February 4 between junctions 22 and 21A.

Police had been chasing down a stolen van which was then involved in a collision with three other vehicles, including the vehicle that Ms Hawes was in.

A second man, travelling in a different vehicle, was also killed in the crash.

No police vehicles were involved and the chase had been stood down prior to the collision, Hertfordshire Constabulary said.

A man in his 20s has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

Read more: Specialist police unit begins search of River Thames in hunt for Clapham attack suspect Abdul Ezedi

Read more: Woman charged with double attempted murder after two children 'poisoned' at home in Sussex

Zoe Hawes
Zoe Hawes. Picture: Herts police

Tributes have since poured in for the "wonderful mummy and nanna".

Her family said: "Zoe was the heart of our blended family. She was a role model to everyone and the centre of our family.

"She was a very much loved mum, step mum, sister, aunt and lovely young nanna. She was a friend to many.

"She was very much looking to go on holiday to celebrate her 40th with her husband. Sadly, a holiday and birthday she didn’t get to celebrate.

"We are all trying to pull together as a family and are devastated to lose Zoe in this tragic way. 

"We wouldn’t have changed her for the world and she leaves an enormous hole in our family that will never be filled. 

"We love you and will miss you forever xx"

Zoe Hawes
Zoe Hawes. Picture: Social media

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family fund her funeral, with it already raising more than £6,500.

Meanwhile, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the involvement of Hertfordshire police before the crash.

Officers were following a white Citroen Dispatch on the M1 on the Sunday morning.

They initiated a pursuit after the driver failed to stop but soon abandoned it after ruling that there was too high a risk.

Shortly later, an officer saw the van travelling on the wrong side of the M25 and followed but on the right side of the road.

At 4.08am, the van collided with the three other vehicles, killing two.

The IOPC said: "We are gathering and reviewing evidence as we piece together the circumstances surrounding this incident. 

"This includes securing and reviewing police dashcam footage and officers' body-worn video footage, obtaining motorway CCTV and reviewing police call logs and radio transmissions."

Anyone with information can email, report online, or call the non-emergency number 101 quoting Op Sericeous.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.