The view of this afternoon's crash at Halfway Creek from the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.
The view of this afternoon's crash at Halfway Creek from the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter. contributed

Young driver spared jail over highway sleep crash

A YOUNG driver whose ute veered into oncoming traffic after he fell asleep on the Pacific Highway has been spared jail over the crash, which left a middle-aged couple with life threatening injuries.

Cody Woods, now 23, faced Lismore District Court on Wednesday over the October 2016 crash after earlier pleading guilty to two counts of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

About 2.30pm on Sunday October 30, 2016 the Brisbane man was driving north on the Pacific Highway at Halfway Creek when his Ford Ranger ute veered across double lines and struck an oncoming Isuzu D-Max ute head on.

The Isuzu was driven back into the concrete barriers on the eastern side of the highway.

Its occupants, husband and wife Wayne and Gayle Denning, then aged 61 and 58, suffered life threatening injuries.

Gayle Denning was transferred by the Westpac Life Saver Rescue helicopter to Coffs Harbour health campus and required life saving surgery, followed by orthopaedic and intensive care.

Her injuries included a ruptured bowel, spleen laceration, and 10 fractures including vertebrae, wrist, ribs, and feet. Medical experts indicated she was unlikely to ever return to her pre-injury level of health and fitness.

Wayne Denning also suffered life threatening injuries, including a fractured vertebrae, multiple rib fractures, and chest trauma.

Woods had no memory of the collision or events leading up to it. He suffered fractures to his feet, arm, and wrist.

When witnesses came to assist immediately after the crash, he asked: "What was I doing in Coffs Harbour. Did I fall asleep?"

On Wednesday, a District Court judge ordered Woods to serve an 18 month jail sentence via an intensive corrections order in the community, with 300 hours community service.

His licence was also disqualified for three years.