Deputy wants to walk again and needs OUR help.

Several days after a Humboldt County sheriff's deputy nearly died in a crash into the Trinity River, a story is emerging about how a local resident and others came to the man's rescue.

The 30-year-old driver, identified by his rescuers as Humboldt County sheriff's deputy Ken Dison of McKinleyville, lost control of his westbound car on a curve on Highway 299 in a heavy downpour Friday morning, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Josh Paik-Nicely, 29, of Burnt Ranch and his wife, Maria Alfaro, were driving east when, several hundred feet ahead of them, they saw Dison's car go over the edge.

"It was really like a split-second. We looked and saw the car slide off the cliff," Paik-Nicely said Tuesday evening.

The Burnt Ranch couple pulled to the side of the highway right after Dison's car plunged down a 300-foot hillside.

Paik-Nicely said his wife flagged down a car and asked the driver to call 911 farther down the road because that stretch of the highway just west of Salyer doesn't have cell phone coverage.

Meanwhile, Paik-Nicely looked over the edge and saw the car starting to sink in the river. His wife told him he needed to go down and help the man.

"I started to 'snowboard' my way down the hill. I didn't think twice. I went down," the Trinity County man said.

Paik-Nicely, who is a general contractor in the construction business, said he grew up surfing and participating in extreme sports, and is a good swimmer.

After making it down the slick, muddy hillside in the pouring rain, Paik-Nicely took off his coat and jumped into the ice-cold water.

By this time, Dison had managed to get out of his Hyundai through a broken, rear window, but he told Paik-Nicely that he couldn't feel his legs.

Paik-Nicely grabbed the man, who was bigger than he, and swam about 20 to 30 feet to the shore.

The Rev. Eric Duff of Trinidad, who also had stopped on the road above, came down the hill to help. Another woman identified as Kat Napier, a carpenter and carpentry instructor from Salyer, also pitched in to assist.

Duff credits Paik-Nicely with saving Dison's life.

"He was a real hero. The man would've drowned - because he broke his back - had Josh not jumped into the river and got him out," Duff said Tuesday.

Paik-Nicely, Duff, Napier and emergency personnel struggled to get the man back up the slope on a rescue board and into a waiting ambulance.

He was initially taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka where he was treated for severe injuries and transferred to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Dison was listed in good condition Wednesday afternoon, a hospital official said.

"Everyone at the Sheriff's Office is deeply saddened by the serious injury Kenny has sustained," Humboldt County Sheriff Gary Philp said in a statement Wednesday.

"We are all standing by to assist him and his family in any way we can. We also gratefully acknowledge Josh Paik-Nicely who witnessed the accident and selflessly and heroically entered the river and rescued Kenny from the water," Philp said.

"We were lucky to be there at the right spot and right time," Paik-Nicely said.

Paik-Nicely said his wife was confident that he could help the man.

"She knew that I could get downhill OK and I'm a good swimmer," he said.

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