, Newburyport, MA

May 15, 2013

Man indicted in fatal car crash

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — NEWBURYPORT — The North End Boat Club bartender allegedly driving drunk New Year’s Eve when he smashed head-on into another car on the Gillis Bridge, killing one of his passengers, faces manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges following Monday’s indictment by a Salem Superior Court grand jury.

Mikhael Sarkis, 50, of Lawrence was seriously injured in the crash that killed his 41-year-old girlfriend, Donna Bergeron of East Hampstead, N.H., and injured two others.

In addition to a single manslaughter and two related motor vehicle homicide charges, Sarkis was charged with two different drunken-driving offenses and two assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charges. He is expected to be arraigned in Salem Superior Court in the near future, according to Essex County District Attorney spokeswoman Carrie Kimball-Monahan.

Prosecutors believe Sarkis was drunk and had just left the Manson Avenue 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 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.

In February, the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission suspended the North End Boat Club of its liquor license indefinitely finding that the club, which has been part of the waterfront landscape for decades, violated five regulations, including hindering or delaying the investigation into the crash on the Route 1 Gillis Bridge.

Police allege that Sarkis was drunk when he left the property and got behind the wheel of his car with Bergeron and Pollard. The three had been at the club, which was holding a New Year’s Eve party featuring live music. The accident occurred just 1 mile from the club.

In addition to two counts of hindering or delaying the investigation, North End Boat Club was charged with:

Permitting an illegality regarding a change of officers and directors in the corporation for the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

Failing to file the names and addresses of corporate officers with the commission since 1985.

Two counts of failing to have a fire and building safety checklist (on Dec. 31 and again Jan. 2).

Two counts of failing to designate a crowd manager as required under the emergency planning and preparedness regulations.