The family rescued by George Zimmerman after a rollover crash in Florida are terrified they will become targets for hate mobs
- Mark and Dana Michelle Gerstle said they do not want to talk publicly about Zimmerman for fear they will be accused of portraying him as a hero
- Zimmerman pulled the couple and their two children from their car after a terrifying crash on July 17
- It was the first time Zimmerman was seen since being acquitted just four days earlier of murdering Trayvon Martin
- Went into hiding after he, his family and attorneys received death threats and thousands protested the verdict
- Gerstle family are frightened Zimmerman haters will target them too
By Paul Thompson Daily Mail PUBLISHED: 23 July 2013
Mark and Dana Michelle Gerstle told friends they do not want to talk publicly about Zimmerman for fear they will be accused of portraying him as a hero – and face a backlash from those who consider he got away with murder.
‘They are very grateful to Zimmerman for what he did, but they do not want to get involved,’ said a friend, who asked not to be named.
‘There is so much hatred directed towards him they have got to think about their own family. There are a lot of crazies out there. If they say anything in support of him it could backfire.’
The neighborhood watch volunteer, who to many is the most hated man in America after being acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin, helped save the family after a terrifying crash.
He had been driving past with another man and went to the aid of the couple who were trapped in their upturned vehicle.
It was the first public sighting of the 29 year old since he walked free from a court in Sanford after a jury cleared him of the second degree murder.
Since his acquittal he has been in hiding after receiving numerous death threats.
The Black Panther movement had previously put a $10,000 bounty on his head after the shooting of Martin on a gated estate in Sanford.
Zimmerman did not witness the accident on July 17th and left after speaking with police.
His name does not appear in the official accident report.
The heroic rescue took place less than a mile from where Zimmerman shot 17 year old Martin in February 2012.
Mark Gerstle, a 52 year old pharmacist, instantly recognized Zimmerman when he pulled him from the driver’s seat of his overturned vehicle.
He told firefighters: ‘George Zimmerman pulled me out.’
Zimmerman made sure Gerstle, his 41 year old wife Dana Michelle and children aged eight and four were safe before leaving the scene.
He did not call 911 but eight other callers did report the accident. None of the callers mentioned Zimmerman.
The Gerstle family from Port Orange, near Daytona Beach, have refused all requests to talk about their encounter with one of the most infamous men in America.
Mr Gerstle was in no mood to discuss Zimmerman when he arrived back at the family home today in a rental car.
He screamed at reporters from his garage saying: ‘Go away. I’ve got nothing to say.’
The family have lived in the single story, tan stucco home for the past 10 years.
Gerstle drove straight into his garage after speeding down the road past several TV trucks and film crews waiting to interview him.
He appeared enraged that media wanted to talk to him.
A neighbor in Port Orange said: ‘(He) will be very embarrassed by all the attention he will get.
‘He is a very quiet man and will not like having his name mentioned all over the press. I am sure he is very grateful to Zimmerman but he is not the type you will see on a chat show talking about what happened.’
Rescued: Mark Gerstle (left) and his wife Dana (right) were pulled from the wreck of their mangled SUV last week by George Zimmerman – who was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin last week in Florida
Friends of the couple, who make regular trips from their home to the Disney theme parks in Orlando, said they will be concerned that they could become targets for hate mobs who have threatened revenge for the death of Trayvon Martin.
‘Let’s face it, George Zimmerman is pretty toxic right now,’ said a friend.
‘Mark has two young children and has got to live his life round here. Why would he want to mark himself out.
‘Whatever he says could be taken out of context. If he praises Zimmerman then people will say he is making him into a hero. It is easier if he says nothing.’
Like Casey Anthony, another Florida resident who was sensationally cleared of murder, Zimmerman faces living in the shadows for the rest of his life.
Not only has he and his immediate family received death threats, but his legal team have also been warned they are on a hit list.
Rallies were held across the US at the weekend by protestors angry at the jury’s decision to acquit Zimmerman on all charges.
Beyonce and husband Jay Z joined Martin’s mother in a rally held in New York city.
It was widely thought that Zimmerman would leave Florida to start a new life.
But with the threat of a Justice Department inquiry it is thought he has been told to remain in Florida.
Officials have also refused to return the handgun used in the killing of Martin pending a possible Justice investigation.
Zimmerman could also face a civil suit brought by the Martin family.
The neighborhood watch captain has replaced Casey Anthony, who was cleared a year ago of murdering her daughter Caylee, has become the latest figure of hate in Florida.
Even the towing company who removed the Gerstle’s car from the highway refused to talk about the incident.
The Miranda Towing Company from Oviedo were called by Seminole County Police to remove the blue Ford Explorer from the side of the highway.
When contacted by MailOnline a member of staff said: ‘We have got nothing to say’ before slamming down the phone.