‘Role model’: family pays tribute to woman killed in M25 crash

Zoe Hawes [1]

‘Role model’: family pays tribute to woman killed in M25 crash

Zoe Hawes, 40, was travelling to celebrate her birthday when she collided with a van evading police

The family of a woman killed in a collision on the M25 shortly after a motorway police pursuit have paid tribute to their “role model”.

Zoe Hawes, 40, was travelling from Essex to celebrate her birthday last Sunday when she was involved in a fatal collision with a van on the M25. Shortly before the crash, the van was being pursued by officers. They stood down before the collision.

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

The driver of the van was taken to hospital in a serious condition, where he remains. A man in his 20s has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

In a tribute, the 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, stepmum, sister, aunt and lovely young nanna.

“She was a friend to many. She was very much looking [forward] 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.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was gathering and reviewing evidence to piece together the circumstances surrounding the incident. This includes securing and reviewing police dashcam footage and officers’ bodyworn video footage, obtaining motorway CCTV and reviewing police call logs and radio transmissions.

The IOPC said it had established that “at around 3.40am, police officers saw a white Citroen Dispatch van travelling on the M1, which had been reported stolen.

“Shortly after, the officers turned on their vehicle’s lights and sirens in an attempt to stop the driver of the van. After the driver failed to stop, officers initiated a pursuit, which was abandoned because the officers assessed that the risk of continuing was too high.

“There was a subsequent pursuit of the van shortly before 4am on Breakspear Way, which was abandoned a few minutes later. “A short time later the van was then seen by a police officer travelling on the wrong side of the M25. The officer followed the van on the correct side of the road but did not activate the vehicle’s lights or sirens.

“At approximately 4.08am, the van was involved in a collision with other vehicles on the M25 between junctions 21a and 22, Watford and St Albans.”

The IOPC’s regional director, Charmaine Arbouin, said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragic incident.

Given that police officers were pursuing one of the vehicles before the fatal collision, it’s important that we independently investigate the actions and decision-making of the officers involved.

“We will ensure that our inquiries do not impede the police investigation, and we will keep those involved regularly updated.”

The collision is being investigated by Essex police, who have appealed for information.

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