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While world-class Canadian weightlifter Boady Santavy basks in the glory of his first Olympic run in Tokyo, the man he ran over—left for dead and impaired for life—struggles to even get out of bed in the morning.
At around 2 in the morning on March 18, 2018, 33-year-old Nicolas Emmerson Andali was struck by the star athlete’s car in a hit-and-run in the small Canadian city of Sarnia. Santavy, who is 24 years old, has since admitted to fleeing the scene of the crash, leaving his victim bleeding and unconscious on the side of the road until a taxi driver spotted him. Andali was rushed to the hospital, placed in a medically induced coma, intubated, and hooked to a feeding tube. Santavy didn’t turn himself in until more than 24 hours after the incident, at the advice of a lawyer.
Among other injuries, Andali suffered “a broken shoulder blade, clavicle, lacerated spleen, and brain bleed” after the crash, according to a statement read by Andali’s mother, Linda Hachey, in court. “It’s life-changing suffering,” Hachey told The Daily Beast in an interview, her first since Santavy was selected to represent Canada in the Olympics. “Sometimes he won’t get up for a couple of days… he still has damage to his arms and legs,” she said, adding that Andali occasionally relies on a cane to walk when his pain is severe.
Hachey—who manages all of her son’s appointments and drives an hour out of town every Wednesday for his pain treatment, which includes multiple needle injections all over his body—told The Daily Beast that his injuries go beyond physical ailments.
“He has anxiety now, he has depression, and he has a problem concentrating. If he reads something, and you asked him what he just read, he can’t process that,” said Hachey, explaining that her son’s injuries have left him incapable of working a regular job. “He’ll get stumbly and mumbly after a few hours.”
In 2019, Santavi pleaded guilty to a provincial charge of fleeing the collision site, after Andali and his family had decided against pushing for a criminal trial. He reportedly apologized to the family in court.
“If we went criminally, it would have been months of trial,” explained Hachey. “At the time I was thinking: Can my son make it to that trial? Can my son physically and mentally go through this? And do I want him to go through this?” Ultimately, Santavy served 90 days in jail and a year of probation—and was even allowed to compete in the Commonwealth Games just weeks after slamming his car into Andali. He won silver.
“I did not want Boady crucified, but I figured if he got probation, he would not be able to travel or compete. That’s what I figured,” said Hachey.
And now, Santavy’s participation in the Olympics has reopened painful old wounds.
“I don’t think he suffered anything. I don’t think his life is altered. What has changed in his life? Nothing,” said Hachey. “He still competes, he still lifts weights, he still drives a car, he still has a job, and he gets stardom, with all these news reports talking about how wonderful he is. He went on, from day one of hitting my son, back to his normal life. Other than 90 lousy days in jail.”
She added: “It’s terrible that he’s got to go on doing what he loves to do, to me with very little consequence. And I always wonder, if the tables were turned, my son hitting the star athlete, where would he be? Probably still in jail.”
In response to comment request from The Daily Beast, the Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement that “We express our deepest sympathies to the victim and their loved ones for the suffering they’ve endured,” adding that “Boady Santavy served his sentence imposed by the court in 2019, and he has met all the criteria necessary to compete on Team Canada at the Olympic Games.”
Boady Santavy, his father, and the lawyer who represented him in the Andali case did not respond to requests for comment by the given deadline.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Andali’s other family members echoed similar frustrations.
“We didn’t want Boady’s life to stop, that was never our intention, but he’s obviously received some athletic privilege,” said his aunt, Hachey’s sister, Karen, who described Santavy’s participation in the games as a “knife in the back,” that made it feel like “nothing had ever happened.”
“For the family and for him to want to carry on, it almost felt like there was no remorse. Boady’s life continued, Nicolas’ life has stopped. It’s anything but normal,” she added.
Before the incident, Andali was social, loved playing water sports and riding dirtbikes, and was working everyday, according to his family. “He used to work at a power shop, and Nicolas was in line to take that over from his uncle. And that’s not part of his reality anymore,” said Hachey.
Meanwhile, Santavy, who “comes from a line of weightlifters that includes his Olympian grandfather,” according to his Team Canada profile, is sitting down for media interviews in Tokyo, joking about Olympic staffers hiding condoms from athletes, and answering questions from the press about the so-called “anti-sex” beds offered to Olympians.
Andali did not speak with the Daily Beast; his relatives said he found it too difficult and overwhelming. He now relies on his parents to help cover his basic living expenses, including physiotherapy, according to his aunt and mother. A financial settlement between the two parties has not yet been reached, and could take more than a year to finalize, the family said.
Meanwhile, Santavy’s first Olympic competition is slated for next Saturday, when he’ll be competing in the men’s 96kg weightlifting group.
“It hurts when we see Boady’s success,” Barbara Smith Gulliford, another one of Nicolas’ aunts who has been a staunch advocate of his, told The Daily Beast.
“We are human. We cannot help but compare and contrast the lives they both live at times like this. Nico struggling each day, and Boady’s seemingly unfettered freedom and success after this tragic, life changing event.”