TWO Gympie boys and two of their friends remain in hospital after a road trip last Friday night turned into a highway horror.
Former Gympie State High School students Zane, 20, and Reece Armstrong, 18, were on their way to Maryborough with Zane's girlfriend Laura Anderson, 18, and her twin Hannah, both from Eumundi, to watch a friend's football game when their Toyota Yaris was hit by an on-coming van at Pineapple Hill, north of Tiaro, around 8pm.
The group was travelling north on the Bruce Hwy when the south-bound Toyota Hiace van, carrying six people thought to be on their way from Gladstone to the Sunshine Coast for a 21st birthday party, swerved in front of then to evade banked up traffic.
The van crashed head-on into the Yaris, sending the hatchback off the road and rolling down an embankment where it eventually landed on its roof.
Zane, Reece, Hannah and Laura all had to be cut from the wreck.
The carnage at the scene was described by Wide Bay Forensic Crash Unit Sergeant Steve Webb as looking like "a war zone" but somehow all four survived to tell the tale.
But they are not out of the woods - or hospital - yet.
Laura remains in Nambour General Hospital after being airlifted there from the crash; Zane is in Princess Alexandra hospital while Hannah and Reece remain side by side in the Royal Brisbane hospital.
The boys' mother Julie Armstrong said the four active and fun-loving youths were currently bed-ridden and in extreme pain as they began a slow road to recovery from extensive injuries.
She said Laura had a broken shoulder, abdominal injuries and a swollen vertebrae which has required her to wear a back brace.
"She's pretty sore," Julie said.
Hannah was recovering from a broken leg and surgery to repair a two broken arms while Zane needed surgery to fix his broken collarbone after the impact of the crash was so severe the bone snapped off and was left sitting near his rib cage.
Zane is also suffering a broken sternum, which had to be wired into place, as well as broken ribs and punctured lungs.
It is Reece, however, who may require the longest stint in rehab as he learns to walk again after shattering his knee.
Julie said it was sad result for the happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who had just taken up running as part of an endeavour to keep fit.
Reece is also contending with broken arms that have been plated back together, internal injuries which required surgery after his muscles were torn away from his abdominal wall.
The injuries were the haunting hallmarks of a situation a mother hopes never to face.
"It's really sad to see," said Julie, who is a mother of nine.
"It's probably every mother's worse nightmare.
"I never thought I would ever see my boys like that.
"(But it's) really wonderful they were able to come out alive."