SPOFFORD, N.H. -- A Putney woman was involved in a chain of two traffic accidents Saturday that closed down Route 9 for more than an hour.

Valerie Gero, 22, of Putney, was driving a 2006 Honda Civic, when she lost control of the car after being sideswiped by a second vehicle which was swerving to avoid a third vehicle, whose driver had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Gero's vehicle ended up in a ditch and she was not seriously hurt.

The crash left a quarter-mile-long trail of debris, and traffic was backed up in both directions.

The stalled traffic caused a second accident, which was more serious, and sent five people to the hospital.

The Chesterfield Police Department said the first accident occurred just after 10 a.m. between Howard's Leather and Route 9A, when Eric Onan, 30, of Southfield, Mich., apparently fell asleep while driving a 2013 Hyundai sedan, eastbound on Route 9.

Onan's car drifted into the westbound lane.

Richard Wesley, 58, of Troy, N.H., who was driving a 2004 Jeep Liberty, saw Onan's car drifting into his lane and he pulled off into the breakdown lane.

Onan's car sideswiped Wesley's vehicle, causing it to spin 180 degrees.

Onan's car continued in the westbound lane and then hit Gero's vehicle, which skidded across the eastbound lane and into a ditch on the south side of Route 9.

Onan continued, eventually hitting a utility pole at the intersection of Route 9 and Route 9A.

The pole fell over, blocking traffic on Route 9A.


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PSNH was called in and power was shut in the area as crews worked on a downed line.

As Chesterfield police and Spofford Rescue and Fire attended to the first crash, a second one occurred about 300 yards east.

Two vehicles were involved in the second crash, according to Lt. Duane Chickering of the Chesterfield Police Department, though the New Hampshire State Police responded to the second accident and the names of the victims were not released.

Chickering said there were at least four injuries in the second accident, including an entrapment that required the Jaws of Life.

Additional ambulances were also called in from Vermont and New Hampshire.

Chesterfield Police are asking anyone who witnessed the first accident to call 603-363-4233, ext. 62.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.