, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 4, 2013

club's role in fatality probed

NEWBURYPORT — Local police and the state Alcoholic Beverages Licensing Commission are investigating the North End Boat Club for its possible role in Monday night’s fatal head-on collision on the Salisbury side of the Gillis Bridge that claimed the life of an East Hampstead, N.H., woman.

According to court documents, Salisbury police believe Mikhael Sarkis, 50, of 6 Hofmann Lane, Lawrence, was drunk and had just finished his bartending shift at the private marina when he got behind the wheel of his Lincoln Town Car with two passengers and began driving toward Salisbury.

Sarkis entered 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.

The crash killed Sarkis’ girlfriend, 41-year-old Donna Bergeron, and injured his other passenger, 62-year-old Clifford Pollard of Salisbury. Burgess was wearing a seat belt and escaped serious injury.

A search of the Lincoln Town Car resulted in the seizure of a plastic water bottle and a bottle of Sprite that police believe contained alcohol.

All four were transported to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport where Bergeron was pronounced dead. Sarkis was eventually transferred to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

City Marshal Thomas Howard and ABCC spokeswoman Chandra Allard yesterday confirmed the two agencies were investigating the incident together but wouldn’t offer any details, with Allard adding her commission would not comment on the matter until the investigation was complete. Howard said it is unknown when the investigation would be concluded.

The North End Boat Club is a private, members-owned marina and social club that has been a part of the Newburyport waterfront for decades. It’s located off Merrimac Street, about a mile west of downtown Newburyport.

If the boat club is determined to have liability for overserving alcohol, police say it faces “significant exposure.”

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