By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel
8:26 PM EDT, July 22, 2013
George Zimmerman, the man recently acquitted in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, helped rescue a family from an overturned SUV last week, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said Monday.
According to sheriff's spokeswoman Heather Smith, deputies were called to the crash about 5:45 p.m. Wednesday. A Ford Explorer — with two children and their parents inside — had gone off the road and rolled over in the area of Interstate 4 and State Road 46, Smith said.
By the time a deputy arrived, Zimmerman and another man "had already helped assist the family by getting them out of the overturned vehicle," Smith said.
"Zimmerman was not a witness to the crash and left after making contact with the deputy," Smith said in an emailed statement. "There were no reports of injuries to the vehicle occupants."
The Sheriff's Office later released a traffic accident report. Zimmerman and the other man are not mentioned in the report.
Authorities also released several 911 calls reporting the crash. Callers described the vehicle on its side and bystanders helping. None mentioned Zimmerman specifically in the audio, though parts of the calls were apparently redacted.
Smith said the redactions were only to remove the name, address or telephone number of the caller, information exempt from Florida's public records laws.
"It's smoking pretty bad ... it's on its side," one caller said of the SUV, later adding: "Everyone seems to be OK."
Said another caller: "We just saw a SUV just got turned over on I-4 … There's other people that are helping the people."
The crash came days after six Seminole County residents returned a not-guilty verdict in Zimmerman's murder trial. Prosecutors accused Zimmerman of profiling, pursuing and killing Trayvon in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012.
Zimmerman, then a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, said he shot Trayvon in self-defense after the unarmed Miami Gardens teen attacked him.
Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara told WOFL-Channel 35 he wasn't surprised that Zimmerman stopped to help the family.
"It's just in his nature," O'Mara said. "I just wish people would look at this and understand this is who he is."
Zimmerman remains in hiding, as he had been while awaiting trial.
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