NH woman gets jail time for drugged driving

·3 min read

Jan. 19—AMESBURY — A New Hampshire woman who admitted she was high when she slammed her sedan head on into a car traveling the other way on Route 110 in November was sentenced to six months in jail Tuesday after pleading guilty to several charges.

Ashley Berg, 21, of East Hampstead was originally sentenced to two years behind bars before Newburyport District Court Judge Allen Swan suspended all but six months for two years while on probation.

During her stint on probation, Berg must remain drug and alcohol free with random screens, and pay a to-be-determined amount of restitution. She also was barred from driving for a year and given credit for 67 days already served in jail.

The sentence covers guilty pleas on driving while under the influence of drugs, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of personal injury and possession of a Class E drug.

On Nov. 11, Berg crashed into a car containing four people — a mother and her three children. All four were transported to a hospital for evaluation.

Before Swan handed down the sentence, Berg's attorney, Michael Hutchinson, read the judge a letter Berg penned while behind bars expressing remorse for her actions. She also detailed how she had been battling drug addiction since she was 11 years old.

"I could have killed innocent people, which I regret," Berg's letter read, according to Hutchinson.

Hutchinson had asked for far less time in custody, a request Swan turned down.

"The facts of this case warrant a significantly longer jail sentence," Swan said.

The crash occurred about noon on Veterans Day when Berg's Nissan Sentra crossed the yellow line on Route 110 and struck another car near Game Time. Minutes before the crash, multiple motorists called police about an erratic operator.

By the time Officer Jonathan Morrill arrived at the crash site, Berg had fled into the woods.

Witnesses said she was bleeding from the head as she slipped out of sight. Morrill spotted what appeared to be a fresh trail into the woods by the Yang Ming restaurant toward Middle Road. Another officer, Troy Burrell, caught up with Berg a few minutes later walking out of the woods onto Middle Road.

"(Berg) appeared to be swaying back and forth and had a male subject assisting her," Burrell wrote in his report, adding that the man helping Berg out of the woods found her in his backyard and was trying to get her some help.

Berg, sporting a large gash on her forehead could barely stay awake, going in and out of consciousness. She repeatedly apologized and admitted she was anxious.

"I asked her if she was OK and again she apologized and said, 'I left because I was scared,'" Burrell wrote in his report, adding that Berg gave him a false name. Berg was eventually transported to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport by a Merrimac Fire Department ambulance.

It was at the hospital that she told Burrell her real name and was arrested. Searching her purse, hospital staff found several used and unused hypodermic needles.

"Berg stated she was scared and didn't want to go to jail and that she was sorry," Burrell wrote in his report.

Inside Berg's damaged Nissan, Morrill found a pack of needles and several loose pills. Morrill also learned there were warrants for Berg's arrest out of Kingston, New Hampshire, and police there believe she overdosed the night before the crash.

The car, he wrote in his report, belonged to her boyfriend.

Dave Rogers is a reporter with the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

Dave Rogers is a reporter with the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting