, Newburyport, MA

January 3, 2013

Man charged in fatal car accident

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — BOSTON — A Lawrence man who police say plowed into an oncoming car while going the wrong way on the Gillis Bridge on New Year’s Eve, killing one his passengers, has been charged with felony vehicular homicide and multiple drunken driving charges.

Mikhael Sarkis, 50, of 6 Hofmann Lane, was arraigned yesterday inside his Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center hospital room by Quincy District Court Judge Paul Yee Jr., according to Essex County District Attorney spokeswoman Carrie Kimball Monahan.

He is accused of being responsible for the death of 41-year-old Donna Bergeron of East Hampstead, N.H., one of two passengers inside his Lincoln Town Car when it collided with a Mercury Grand Marquis driven by 20-year-old Salisbury resident Corey Burgess.

All four people involved sustained injuries and were transported to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport. Bergeron was pronounced dead at the hospital. Sarkis was later transferred to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. A hospital spokesperson yesterday said Sarkis was in good condition.

According to an Anna Jaques Hospital spokesperson, Burgess was treated and released.

Yee ordered Sarkis held on $100,000 bail pending a Jan. 30 pretrial hearing at Newburyport District Court. Should Sarkis post bail, he will not be able to leave his home and must not drive. He will be required to wear an electronic locator device at all times and not use drugs or alcohol with random screens. He will also be required to use a Sobrietor, a remote alcohol breath-testing device that connects to existing phone and power lines.

In addition to the vehicular homicide charge, Sarkis was arraigned on two counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol causing serious bodily injury, open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, marked lanes and failure to wear a seat belt. Salisbury police Sgt. Robert Roy first issued the complaint against Sarkis at Newburyport District Court.

Bergeron was a long-time employee at the Atkinson Country Club. Hampstead police Lt. John Frazier said Bergeron lived alone in an apartment at 3 Lewis Lane. Police said they had a very difficult time locating Bergeron’s family to make the death notification.

Bergeron worked for five years as a bartender and server at the Atkinson Country Club.

“She was an extremely dedicated employee and she was liked by all her peers, our guests and members,” said Kristin Perry, controller at Atkinson Country Club. “She will be missed.”

A spokeswoman from the Douglas and Johnson Funeral Home in Salem said Bergeron’s body has not yet been released from the medical examiner’s office.

According to police, Sarkis was traveling on Merrimac Street in Newburyport about 11:35 p.m. and took a left-hand turn, heading north into Salisbury via the southbound side of the divided Route 1 bridge over the Merrimack River. Sarkis’ Town Car almost made it to the other side of the bridge before striking the southbound traveling Burgess.

Salisbury police are in the process of trying to determine where Sarkis began his journey and have reached out to Newburyport police for assistance.

Newburyport police Lt. Richard Siemasko confirmed his department was working with Salisbury police to determine whether a Newburyport pouring establishment over-served Sarkis.

“Whoever served him has significant exposure,” Siemasko said yesterday.

Newburyport firefighters, led by Lt. Barry Salt, were the first to arrive at the scene, followed by Salisbury firefighters and police officers from both communities. Rescue units were at the scene for nearly three hours before clearing the scene, and the southbound side of the bridge was closed for a time.

Salisbury firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extricate at least one of the victims in the crash, according to Salisbury fire Chief Richard Souliotis.