July 24, 2013 — -- The family rescued by George Zimmerman when they were trapped in an overturned SUV canceled a scheduled news conference today and is pleading for privacy.
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., about 5:45 p.m. Thursday, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The Gerstles were expected to hold a press conference today at the office of Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara, but cancelled a few hours before it was supposed to take place.
"They have expressed to us that they are not comfortable doing media interviews at this time and they continue to ask for privacy," the Seminole City Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, said the family had asked to speak, but then got concerned about the anger surrounding the controversial verdict.
"The family called because they wanted to address the media. I knew that if we did it in an organized way, it would help them get back to a normal life.. But they called today and said they were more worried about blow back from saying anything that would be favorable to George, and decided they did not want to do any media," O'Mara said.
The lawyer said that when he spoke to the Gerstles "their voices were trembling" and that they feared saying anything positive about Zimmerman "would be toxic."
O'Mara wouldn't say whether Zimmerman is now carrying a weapon since the Department of Justice asked that the gun and other evidence be sent to federal prosecutors who are reviewing the case.
But Zimmerman "should be [armed] given the threats against him," O'Mara said. He added, "If I were him I would leave" the country.
The Gerstles could not be reached for comment.
Zimmerman has been in hiding since he was acquitted of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin and his acquittal prompted a flood of negative reactions and dozens of protests across the country. Zimmerman as well as his parents have received death threats.
The Thursday crash occurred at the intersection of I-4 and route Route 46, police said, 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.