The family of a south Essex mother killed in a crash on the M25 have paid tribute to her as a "wonderful mummy and nanna".

Zoe Hawes, from Canvey, was travelling to go on holiday to celebrate her 40th birthday when the incident occurred.

The crash took place at around 4am between junctions 22 and 21A. Officers had been in pursuit of a van which was then involved in a crash with three other vehicles, including the car that Zoe was in.

A second man, travelling in a different vehicle, also died following the crash.

No police vehicles were involved and the pursuit had been stood down prior to the crash. As a matter of course, the incident was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct who are now investigating.

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

In a tribute following the fatal crash, Zoe’s 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.”

The crash is being investigated by Essex Police.

Anyone who saw what happened or has any information should email

They can also submit a report online at, speak to an operator in Hertfordshire Police's force communications room via our online web chat at or call the non-emergency number 101 quoting Op Sericeous.

Alternatively, make a 100 per cent anonymous report by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form at