As the “heart” of her family, the mother-of-eight and grandmother-of-two has left “an enormous hole that will never be filled”, her devastated loved ones said in a tribute.
Meanwhile, Zoe’s husband, Wayne, remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital, police confirmed on Monday.
Officers had been chasing a stolen white Citroen van, which was then involved in a collision with Ms Hayes’ car as well as two other vehicles between junctions 22 and 21A.
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A second man, travelling in a different vehicle, was also killed, while a man in his twenties has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and remains in hospital. No police cars were involved and the pursuit had been stood down before the collision.
As a matter of course, the incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which has confirmed it is now investigating the involvement of Hertfordshire Constabulary prior to the collision.
The force said its investigation into the incident is ongoing and it continues to appeal for any witnesses or anyone with information or dash cam footage.
She was a very much-loved mum, stepmum, sister, aunt and lovely young nanna
Zoe Hawes’ family
In a statement released by police, Ms Hawes’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, stepmum, 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.”
A fundraiser has been set up to raise money to support Ms Hawes’ children who face a life without their “beautiful, kind-hearted” mother, as well as to contribute towards funeral costs.
The GoFundMe page reads: “The very sad news came on Sunday that Zoe Hawes – who is loved by her husband, children, family and friends – was tragically taken too soon.... Let’s give Zoe the beautiful send-off she deserves.”
It adds: “Zoe has left a massive hole in a lot of people’s lives – she was truly loved by so many people.”
The money raised will also be put towards the cost of hospital visits to enable the children to visit their father as he is treated for his injuries suffered in the crash.
Writing on social media, a former school friend said she was “absolutely heartbroken and devastated” upon hearing the news.
Another friend described Ms Hawes as an “amazing, lovely” woman in a post on Facebook. She said: “[Ms Hawes] cares and adores her family. Life is so cruel – am heartbroken and devastated that family lost their mum and nan.”
IOPC 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 enquiries do not impede the police investigation, and we will keep those involved regularly updated.”
Anyone with information regarding the incident is being encouraged to come forward by contacting the police on 999 or by emailing Essex Police at CollisionAppeal@essex.police.uk