|Zimmerman Rescues Family Trapped in SUV|
|By MATT GUTMAN (@mattgutmanABC) and ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109)||Jul 22, 2013, 11:28 AM|
George Zimmerman, who has been in hiding since he was acquitted of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, emerged to help rescue a family who was trapped in an overturned vehicle, police said today.
Zimmerman was one of two men who came to the aid of Dana and Mark Gerstle and their two children, who were trapped inside a blue Ford Explorer SUV that had rolled over after traveling off the highway in Sanford, Fla. at approximately 5:45 p.m. Thursday, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The crash occurred at the intersection of I-4 and route Route 46, police said. The crash site is less than a mile from where Zimmerman shot Martin.
By the time police arrived, two people - including Zimmerman - had already helped the family get out of the overturned car, the sheriff's office said. No one was reported to be injured.
Zimmerman was not a witness to the crash and left after speaking with the deputy, police said.
It's the first known sighting of Zimmerman since he left the courtroom following his controversial acquittal last week on murder charges for the death of Martin. Zimmerman, 29, shot and killed Martin, 17, in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012. The jury determined that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense.
The acquittal prompted dozens of protests across the country this past weekend and his lawyers have said that Zimmerman has been the subject of death threats. His lawyers said Zimmerman has been wearing a bullet-proof vest when he ventures out in public.
Zimmerman's parents told ABC News' Barbara Walters they too have received death threats and have been unable to return to their home.
"We have had an enormous amount of death threats. George's legal counsel has had death threats, the police chief of Sanford, many people have had death threats," Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman said."'Everyone with Georgie's DNA should be killed' -- just every kind of horrible thing you can imagine."
An indication of the animosity toward Zimmerman is the number of threatening phone calls being received by a woman in Winter Park, Fla.
Lori Tankel told ABCNews.com that someone had incorrectly posted her cell phone number online thinking it was Zimmerman's. She said she started receiving threatening calls within an hour after the jury had reached a verdict on July 13.
"They were saying things like, 'Zimmerman? Is this George? We're going to get you, we're going to kill you,'" she said.
Her cell phone number is only one digit off from Zimmerman's, she said.
Tankel said she received at least 80 phone calls within one day of the jury's not guilty verdict. While the threats died down during the week, she said they ramped right back up again on Friday and continued through the weekend.
"Those phone calls were extremely malicious," she said. "I think at that point, they kind of knew it wasn't George Zimmerman's number, but they were still going to harass me."
Tankel said she initially reported the threatening calls to the the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, but was told to follow up with law enforcement in Orange County, Fla., where she lives, to file a report, she said.
But Tankel she said she won't be changing her number anytime soon.
"I'm a sales representative for several different horse-related companies, and I have five states in my territory," she said. "To change business cards and contact everybody, it's not that simple."