UPDATE: Drivers stuck for hours on A31 slam Hampshire Police over severe gridlock (From Bournemouth Echo)
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UPDATE: Drivers stuck for hours on A31 slam Hampshire Police over severe gridlock
DRIVERS trapped in queues for hours in the aftermath of Wednesday's fatal crash on the A31 have criticised Hampshire Police for their handling of the situation.
Hundreds of motorists were stuck in queues for several hours after two motorcyclists collided with a horse near Ringwood at around 6pm, leaving one dead and the other with serious injuries.
The incident took place on the westbound part of the dual carriageway, just half a mile from the Picket Post services.
The road was part closed, but eventually a route was cleared by officers and cars were guided slowly past the debris.
Others were forced to do U-turns in the road and drive back up the carriageway.
One driver, Tracy Jordan, described the operation as a “shambles”.
“I think first thing to say is of course condolences to the family of the poor motorcyclist, and my thoughts are with everyone affected,” she said.
“I joined the A31 at about 5.45pm and got home to Ringwood at midnight.
“The exercise to release motorists was a shambles.
“We were aware that a major incident had occurred by 7pm. Why did the police not start to release motorists from the back at that stage?
“Obviously mobile reception on that stretch is patchy, and no information was distributed so some motorists took matters into their own hands and turned and headed back through the queues, making matters worse.
“But when we did finally get turned, there was no police guidance on where to go or even to turn off at junction 1. I was amazed there wasn't another accident.”
Like many other drivers Mark Fudge didn’t get home until the early hours of Thursday morning.
“As a motorcyclist myself I really feel for the two riders’ families, but the police need to answer some serious questions on their handling of the initial and subsequent situations,” he said.
Fiorna Jessop said: “It was very unpleasant and quite frightening and am appalled at the lack of concern for stranded motorists by the police.”
And Jenny Jay echoed her thoughts: “Being a lone female I did not feel safe on a pitch black road in the middle of the forest but it appears the police couldn't have cared less about anyone trapped.
Hannah Wright said there were elderly people among those on her coach left without food, water or facilities nearby.
Carole Statham, Ken Wilson and Matthew Shannon all emailed to say they were disappointed with the lack of information about what was happening, with the latter saying it was five and half hours before officers appeared to say what was going on.
Alan Phillips said: “Some nearby drivers even walked all the way to police cordon, but came away with only the most 'sanitised' information, nothing of any real help.”
Tracy Jordan described the whole incident as a “shambles”.
“When we did finally get turned, there was no police guidance on where to go or even to turn off at junction one,” she said.
“I was amazed there wasn’t another accident.”
Mike Habgood said: “I'm sure there were many drivers, young, old or alone, who were no longer able to fully concentrate on the remainder of their journey, in the dark, on roads they were not familiar with.”
All the drivers who contacted the Daily Echo expressed their condolences for the victims of the crash, and some questioned why police had allowed the traffic to flow again after it had been stopped during the initial search for the horse.
Adam Wilson said his wife was in a car at the scene of the crash.
“She openly blames the police for knowing there was a horse on the road and presuming the road was clear,” he said.
David De La Haye said: “At the end of the day, yes we were all cold, hungry, tired and arrived home very late, yet one rider will never do that again.
“Having stopped due to police trying to ‘catch’ a loose horse, why was the road re-opened when the horse clearly had not been made safe.”
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