A mother who died in a high-speed crash on her birthday had borrowed a friend’s car to pick up her daughter, her family said today.

Ariola Hoxhaj, 26, was killed on Monday night after the Mercedes A Class car ploughed into a tree next to a dual carriageway in Enfield. Horrific images show the tree buried in the middle of the wreckage of the white vehicle.

Police say two cars were travelling at high speed at the time of the crash and are investigating the possibility they were racing each other.

The driver of the second car was being questioned on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

Ms Hoxhaj’s family claimed she had not been speeding, and had been on her way to pick up her six-year-old daughter Ria.

A relative said: “We cannot believe it. We were lucky we did not lose two people. She had borrowed a friend’s car to pick up her daughter from her sister and then come home. She was on the way when it happened.

“Another few minutes later and her daughter would be in the car. She was alone at the time.”

He added: “We were told she was driving and a car behind her was going too fast. It forced her off the road.

“One of her friends was passing just after the crash and recognised the car. They contacted Ariola’s sister who got a cab to the scene and confirmed what happened. It was Ariola’s 26th birthday.”

The crash happened at 11.55pm on Monday on the southbound carriageway of Great Cambridge Road.

The relative added: “We are distraught. I did not have the courage to speak to her father straight away.

“She was a loving mother. She wouldn’t sleep anywhere without her daughter, so that’s why she was picking her up so late. We are a really close family and everyone is in shock.”

The driver of a second car, also a white Mercedes, stopped at the scene. He was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and was in custody in a police station in north London today.

A Met spokesman said: “It is believed that the victim’s car and a second vehicle were travelling at excess speed at the time of the incident.”

Detective Sergeant Jose-Paulo Qureshi said other people would have seen the events and appealed for information.

Witnesses are asked to contact police on 020 8597 4874 with reference 8198/12NOV.