Boy drivers saved from blazing car

Stepbrothers, aged 12 and 8, crashed vehicle into public house
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Two stepbrothers aged 12 and eight were pulled from a blazing car by police early yesterday after a joyride which ended with the vehicle smashing into a pub after being driven the wrong way along a dual carriageway.

The two officers who risked their own lives pulling the two boys to safety were praised for their bravery by their boss. Superintendent Phil Hollowood, of Greater Manchester Police, said that the selfless action of Constables Simon Waddington and Jackie Pendlebury had probably saved the boys' lives.

According to police, the 12-year-old had been at the wheel of the stolen Vauxhall Cavalier as it was driven around Manchester and Salford in the early hours of yesterday morning. The police officers, who were on patrol in a Transit van, spotted the car near a shopping precinct in Salford at 3.40am.

The police Transit pursued the joyriders with its siren switched on and its lights flashing. However, instead of stopping the stolen vehicle accelerated away and headed down a dual carriageway - going in the direction of on-coming traffic.

As the chase continued the boy-driver lost control and the car smashed into the wall of a derelict public house in Salford before bursting into flames.

Supt Hollowood, said that the officers smashed a side window to break into the car "despite the considerable risk to them", and pulled the two boys away from the flames.

He added: "Their prompt and very brave action may have prevented more serious injuries and quite possibly saved the boys' lives."

Both boys were taken to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital. The 12-year-driver was allowed home after receiving treatment for shock and minor cuts.

However, his stepbrother, who had been sitting in the front passenger seat during the chase, is still in hospital being treated for back and other internal injuries. His condition was described as "stable but serious".

Under-age joyriding is now regarded by police as an almost established criminal problem. Although teenage joyriding in cities like Belfast is well documented, some inner-city housing estates in areas of mainland Britain have also become arenas for regular joyriding by youngsters.

The problem of joyriding and other car-related acts now accounts for 1.3 million recorded crimes annually. Vehicle crime, on average, has risen by 5 per cent since 1985.

Greater Manchester Police said the circumstances of the joyride, the police chase and the crash, were being fully investigated by an officer from another police force as "standard procedure".

The car is understood to have been stolen in Stretford, Greater Manchester, on Saturday. Police believe it may have been used in a crime in Prestwich, Manchester, and later abandoned somewhere. The two boys may have found it, entered and driven off, sometime early yesterday morning.

Speaking about the incident that could have cost his two sons, their father said they must have sneaked out of the house at 3am.

"I don't know how they managed to start the car. They've never done anything like this before," he said.