CHEROKEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - A young Oklahoma man is recovering in the hospital after family members say he saved a friend's life during a picnic.

Dallas Cheek pushed a young girl from the path of a runaway SUV before being struck by the vehicle himself, according to mother Pam Peace-Cheek.

It happened at 4:22 p.m. Saturday, June 16, 2012, on private property about 18 miles outside Tahlequah, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Troopers say the1991 Geo Tracker was parked on the edge of a bluff. Cheek, 20, was helping a girl off a rope swing when the Tracker started rolling backwards towards them.

"Dallas pushed (the) girl out of the way, and (the) vehicle hit Dallas, rolled on top of him," said Pam Peace-Cheek in a post to Facebook friends including Six in the Morning anchor Rich Lenz.

The SUV struck Cheek before going off the cliff, landing 15 feet below in the Illinois River where it was completely submerged.

Dallas Cheek, of Kansas, Oklahoma, was taken by medical helicopter to a Tulsa hospital where he underwent five hours of surgery to repair fractures under each eye, a broken jaw, mandible and teeth, his mother said.

He had his mother post a "thumb's up" photo on Facebook to reassure friends and family members that he was OK.