TWO brothers were killed when the car they had stolen exploded into a fireball, an inquest heard.
Scott Best and Robert Crooks died when the stolen Audi S4 car they were in smashed into a garden wall and parked vehicles on Leigh Road, Boothstown, on February 7.
Witnesses — who have been praised by Bolton area coroner, Alan Walsh — rushed to their aid following the horror smash.
The inquest heard the car was stolen just minutes before the crash in a robbery at a house in Boscombe Gardens, Farnworth.
The car’s owner was visiting a friend when a window was smashed next to the front door and the car keys taken from a ledge.
One of the robbers was heard to say “pass me the gun” and a neighbour saw one of them shout at a woman who was putting out her bin. The brothers then jumped into the Audi and sped off.
The court was told seven minutes later the car was spotted by a police officer on patrol in Walkden and PCs John Jacques and Mark Burrows saw it head, at high speed together with a grey vehicle, along Leigh Road towards Boothstown.
Other drivers described how the Audi was travelling at up to 100mph, weaving in and out of traffic.
Pedestrian John Kane was walking to a pub quiz with his family as it crashed just metres away from him.
He said: “I heard the skid and heard the bang and I saw the car up in the air.
Mr Walsh told him: “You and your family were very lucky.
Pedestrians and passing motorists tried to rescue the brothers, but were beaten black by the intensity of the flames.
The two police officers, who were searching side roads looking for the car, were alerted to the crash by a member of the public and tried, without success, to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.
Pathologist Charles Wilson said 33-year-old Robert Crooks suffered severe multiple injuries and would have died almost instantly.
His 27-year-old brother, Scott Best, who was thought to have been driving the car, suffered fractured ribs and died as a result of inhaling poisonous gases from the fire and burns.
The court heard both men had used cannabis, had been drinking and used sedatives before the crash and Mr Crooks had also taken methadone.
Neither had a driving licence.
Retired DCI John Brennan, from Greater Manchester Police’s professional standards branch carried out an investigation into the conduct of PCs Jacques and Burrows. They were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Mr Best’s partner, Michelle Buck, who is also the mother of Robert Crook’s three children, was at the inquest along with the brother’s mother, Susan Best.
In a statement to the coroner Mrs Best said although her sons will be sadly missed, she was glad no one else was hurt in the crash.
Mr Walsh concluded that both men died as a result of a road traffic collision.
He added that several witnesses who tried to save the men had been traumatised by the incident but had been courageous in their efforts.
A stolen Vauxhall Vectra which was seen driving with the Audi before the accident was found abandoned in Worsley the same night.
The inquest was told that no further police action is being taken about its theft or about the stealing of the Audi.