Grace Payne died in a collision on the A13 last month (credit: Met Police)
Grace Payne from Upminster was the passenger in a black Toyota Prius, when a van travelling the wrong direction of the Essex-bound carriageway, collided with the vehicle at around 2.35am on Friday, 25 November.
She died at the scene.
The driver of the Prius is receiving treatment in hospital but is not thought to have been seriously injured.
The van had failed to stop for Essex Police officers prior to entering the A13. The Met Police say Essex officers had followed the vehicle using the correct side of the road.
Grace’s parents said: “Grace’s death has left us, along with the rest of her family and friends, devastated.
“We are struggling to come to terms with the fact that our daughter will never be coming home.
“How can we describe Grace? She made us proud in so many ways. She was caring, compassionate, bright, funny, bubbly – her friends always said that she had the ability to brighten up their day. When she walked out of a room, she left everyone feeling happier than when she had walked in. She always wanted to help, always wanted to make people happy.
“She loved children, and although happily working in HR, she said her long-term goal was to retrain when she reached 30 and become a primary school teacher. When she helped her Dad and brother, Jack, coach the juniors at Brentwood Cricket Club, she was usually entrusted with the youngest age groups, supplying cuddles whenever necessary.
“Grace graduated from the University of Kent this year with a degree in history and philosophy. She spent much of the summer travelling around Europe with university friends – trips to Italy, Greece, Sicily, Barcelona and Amsterdam. There were family holidays to Devon and Wales. She passed her driving test, celebrated her 21st birthday and started work with an architects firm in London which she instantly loved. It had been a very happy, exciting, busy year. She was a 21-year-old starting to live life to the full after the confinements of Covid.
“If Grace was out with a group of friends, it was always said she was the one looking after everyone else, making sure they would get home safely. Last week, she joined work colleagues on their regular Thursday night out. Tragically, she never made it home.”
A 39-year-old man, who was driving the van, was taken to hospital where he remains in a serious condition.
He has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and failing to stop for police. He remains in police custody in hospital.
Officers from the Met’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit are investigating the collision.
A separate investigation is being carried out by The Independent Office for Police Conduct into the circumstances leading up to the collision – including the involvement of Essex Police officers prior to the crash.
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