, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 30, 2013

State board says Newburyport boat club is hindering probe of woman's death

Penalty expected to be announced soon

BOSTON — The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission yesterday accused the North End Boat Club of hindering its investigation into whether the Newburyport marina and social club played a part in a fatal head-on collision on New Year’s Eve involving one of its employees.

The accusation came to light as part of a public hearing into the club’s conduct before and after the accident on the Salisbury side of the Route 1 Gillis Bridge, held by a panel of three commissioners yesterday morning in its Causeway Street offices. In addition to two hindering or delaying investigation charges, the club was accused of violating at least four other ABCC statutes including failing to update the club’s roster of officers and directors and failure to file annual reports with the city’s Liquor Licensing Commission.

The crash claimed the life of an East Hampstead, N.H., woman, who was riding unbuckled in the front seat of a Lincoln Town Car operated by her boyfriend and North End Boat Club bartender, Mikhael Sarkis of Lawrence. Police believe Sarkis was drunk and had just left the marina when he got behind the wheel of his car with two passengers and began driving toward Salisbury.

Sarkis got onto the bridge in the wrong direction, heading north in the southbound lane, when he crashed into a Mercury Marquis driven by 20-year-old Salisbury resident Corey Burgess. Burgess was wearing a seat belt and escaped serious injury.

The crash killed 41-year-old Donna Bergeron and injured Sarkis’ other passenger, 62-year-old Clifford Pollard of Salisbury. No one in the Lincoln Town Car was wearing seat belts. Had they been buckled in, Bergeron’s life would have been saved, authorities believe.

Sarkis is being held on $100,000 cash bail and is expected in Newburyport District Court today for a pretrial hearing.

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