TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Hampshire man killed in a crash that caused seven hours of gridlock on a busy commuter route.

Motorcyclist Daniel Robins, 31, was an ex-pupil of Hardley School, now the New Forest Academy, but had recently moved to Bournemouth.

He was travelling westbound on the A31 on Wednesday evening when he and another motorcyclist collided with a runaway horse.

Officers halted the traffic after receiving reports of an animal in the road – then advised drivers to proceed with caution. The subsequent accident occurred at Picket Post, near Ringwood, at 6.15pm.

Mr Robins was killed and the other rider – a 47-year-old Broadstone man – was seriously hurt and remains in hospital.

Former school friends have paid tribute to Daniel on social networking site Facebook.

Marc Watts posted: “Such sad news. RIP Dan Robins. Another sad loss from the class of 98. Stay strong guys.”

Nick Dearden wrote: “Shocked at another person being taken from that year at Hardley School. Little sporting superstar whose mum treasured him so much. RIP dude and thinking of all the boys who have lost another school brother.”

Wade Horton added: “Such a top bloke who will be missed by so many. Can’t believe another friend was taken from us far too soon. RIP Robins you legend.”

Alice Burch said: “One of my life-long best friends was tragically taken from us. Just last Sunday we were sat eating, joking, laughing, hugging and planning the year. I miss you so much already. RIP Dan Robins.”

Greg Livermore called Daniel “one in a million” and added: “Heaven has gained an angel far too soon.”

Police investigating the tragedy closed the westbound carriageway, trapping hundreds of rush-hour motorists on a stretch of road with no exits.

Drivers were stranded in their cars for several hours with no food or water – and say they were given virtually no information by police.

Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes has said more needs to be done to assess the welfare of people caught in traffic jams for several hours and has vowed to raise the issue with chief constable Andy Marsh and consult with the Highways Agency and voluntary organisations.

He said it was in no way criticising the police but seeking to improve things in the future.

As reported in the Daily Echo the police handling of the incident was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Last night Mr Hayes said the IPCC had decided not to investigate the incident itself but allow Hampshire Police to carry out its own inquiry.

Police have defended their actions in dealing with the crash but say they will be looking to see what lessons they can learn.

The gridlock has sparked calls for gaps to be created in the central reservation to provide traffic with an emergency escape route if similar congestion occurs in the future.

Several cross-over points used to exist on the A31 between Cadnam and Ringwood but were closed several years ago after a police motor-cyclist was killed in an accident caused by a motorist doing a U-turn.

Last night police investigating the death of Mr Robins made a fresh appeal for witnesses.

A police spokesman said: “Prior to the collision both riders were held in a queue of traffic while police responded to reports of a loose horse on the carriageway.

“Officers were advising motorists to proceed with caution regarding the possibility of animals in the carriageway.”

Anyone with information about the incident should ring the road death investigation team at Eastleigh police station on 101.