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November 14, 2013

Man pleads guilty in fatal New Year's Eve crash

Killed NH woman when driving drunk on Gillis Bridge

SALEM — A Lawrence man who had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit pleaded guilty to driving drunk on New Year’s Eve and crashing into an oncoming car on a Newburyport bridge, killing his longtime girlfriend, Donna Bergeron, 41, a passenger in his car, and seriously injuring two men.

Mikhael Sarkis, 51, pleaded guilty in Salem Superior Court yesterday to motor vehicle homicide while intoxicated and numerous related charges. Judge David Lowy sentenced Sarkis to 21/2 years in state prison, followed by five years probation.

The father of three children, Sarkis had no criminal record prior to the deadly crash. He will start his sentence today at MCI Cedar Junction and was given 317 days credit for time he’s already served at Middleton Jail since the crash.

Sarkis, a former bartender at Newburyport’s North End Boat Club, is also subject to a 15-year loss of license, numerous court fines and fees and mandatory attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five times weekly.

Essex County Assistant District Attorney Ashlee Logan asked for Sarkis to be sentenced to 5 to 7 years in state prison for his role in the 11:30 p.m. accident on Dec. 31, 2012. The maximum penalty for a motor vehicle homicide while intoxicated conviction is 15 years in state prison.

Sarkis also faced up to 15 years in state prison on assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charges and 10-year maximum sentences for his conviction on operating under the influence of alcohol and causing serious bodily injury charges.

Sarkis drank “at least 15 beers” before the crash. He left Newburyport’s North End Boat Club in his Lincoln Town Car, and was driving in the wrong lane, the southbound lane, over the Gillis Bridge, which connects Newburyport and Salisbury, Logan said.

He plowed head-on into a Mercury Grand Marquis driven by Corey Burgess, 20, of Salisbury.

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