, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 14, 2013

Man pleads guilty in fatal New Year's Eve crash

Killed NH woman when driving drunk on Gillis Bridge


Bergeron, Sarkis’ girlfriend of eight years, was in the passenger’s seat of the Town Car. Bergeron was a Salem, N.H., native who lived in East Hampstead, N.H. at the time of her death. She was a longtime employee of the Atkinson Country Club.

Clifford Pollard, 62, of Salisbury, a back seat passenger in the Town Car, was seriously injured. Burgess was also hurt in the crash.

In court yesterday, Logan said Sarkis had been working as a back-up bartender at the boat club that night before leaving to give Pollard a ride home to Salisbury. A test taken after the crash showed Sarkis had a blood alcohol level of .28. In addition to his beer consumption, an open water bottle with alcohol inside was also found in Sarkis’ car, she said.

Defense attorney Nicholas Howie spoke of Sarkis’ extreme remorse, describing the event as a “horrible night.”

“Horrible decisions were made,” Howie said. “I know Mr. Sarkis would trade places with Donna in a heartbeat ... He lives with the horror of that night every day.”

Howie handed Lowy a stack of letters written on Sarkis’ behalf yesterday. Howie also said Sarkis has vowed never to drink alcohol again.

Bergeron’s family also wrote a letter to the judge. Logan said the family felt there was no punishment a judge could give Sarkis “that could be worse than what the defendant is going through now.”

A Lawrence High graduate who later earned a business degree from Northern Essex Community College, Sarkis previously owned Samantha’s Restaurant in Salem, N.H., until 2005. He later worked at Olive Garden and the boat club, Howie said.

Burgess addressed the court yesterday, describing how he’d just left work at the Seaglass Restaurant on Salisbury Beach that night and was headed to a friend’s house to ring in the New Year. His night of celebration became a nightmare as he drove southbound over the Gillis Bridge and saw headlights “coming right at me.”

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