Chester bookstore owner hospitalized after
head-on collision

Bookseller Vicki Thornton opening Blair Books & More in 2019. Photo by Cynthia Prairie.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Ludlow resident and Chester bookstore owner Vicki Thornton was seriously injured late Saturday afternoon when her northbound car was hit head-on on Route 103 by a southbound car that smacked into guardrail, bounced off and veered into her lane.  Thornton was heading home after closing up shop early because of the snow.

After being cut out of her vehicle by Chester firefighters, she was transported by ambulance to Dartmouth where she underwent surgeries on Sunday and Monday to repair multiple broken bones and displacements, according to her son Scott Blair, who added that his mother was wearing a seatbelt when the collision occurred.

On Monday, Blair said Thornton recounted that she was driving about 35 mph when she saw a vehicle heading south on Route 103 and hit the guardrail.  Thornton then braked to avoid the collision as she saw the other vehicle carom off and head into her lane, Blair said.

Blair added that the first thing Thornton asked about when emergency personnel arrived was her dog Bear, who was riding in the car with her.  Bear was uninjured and an eyewitness took the dog for safekeeping until Blair was able to retrieve him that Saturday evening.

According to police, Travis Stella, 27, of Wilton, Conn., was driving south on Route 103 near Route 10 around 3:15 5:15 p.m. on Saturday when his vehicle hit a guardrail, deflected off and into the oncoming lane, where it hit Thornton’s car head-on.

Police took Stella into custody and processed him for DUI – Crash involving serious bodily injury.  He was cited to appear in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction on March 29. It could not be ascertained if Stella was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

Blair Books & More, which Thornton opened in 2019, was closed on Sunday because of the accident, but will reopen on Tuesday and Wednesday with staff. From then, they will “play it by ear” as staff and volunteers are able to help, Blair said. He added that Thornton has asked the community to support her recovery by supporting the bookstore, which is located at 58 the Common in Chester.

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Filed Under: ChesterLatest News

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Pamela Spurlock says:

    Vicki is such an incredible person and I am relieved she and Bear are okay. We wish her a swift recovery and send much love.

  2. Linda Birbarie says:

    I came upon the aftermath of this crash 20 minutes after it happened. We sat in traffic for about an hour before the road cleared, praying that the occupants were alive, especially after the wreckage was towed past us. I am so grateful that you survived because we were sure that no one could have. God must have been watching over you that day. I’m sorry for your injuries and wish you a full recovery.

  3. Wendy Schwarz says:

    Dear Vicki,
    We are grateful it wasn’t worse. Our thoughts are with you for a quick recovery.
    The Schwarzes

  4. Jeannie wade says:

    The Wade family is keeping Vicki in our prayers. We are
    so sorry to hear this news.

  5. Kristen Garvey says:

    So sorry this happened to you and very glad you are ok. Sending lots of healing energy your way!

  6. Lynne Reed says:

    Dear Vicki, What a terrible thing to happen. Bill and I send lots of healing energy to you and are grateful that you got immediate attention from Chester’s EMTs and Dartmouth, and that Bear didn’t get hurt. Lynne and Bill

  7. Betsy Owen says:


    We are thinking of you and your family. Of course we’ll keep supporting the Bookstore!
    Get well soon.

  8. Linda Diak says:

    Our thoughts are with all of you. Happy to help out!

  9. Arlene Mutschler says:

    OMG… I hope she is ‘ok’ and glad she got immediate attention. God Bless

  10. Tim Roper says:

    Sending prayers and good energy for a full recovery. I’ll also work on finding some titles to add to my book shelves.

    Get well soon, Vicki!