PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A 14-year-old Louisiana boy who battled his way through rapids to save a drowning canoeist has earned a spot on the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission's honor roll.

D. Robert Young Jr., who was recognized for his heroism Thursday, was canoeing with his family and friends in Buffalo River near St. Joe, Ark., on May 26, 1985, when his boat overturned.

Velma Messer, 37, a non-swimmer, was among those who went overboard.

''He knew she was drowning and that he had to get over there to her,'' his mother, Marcia Young, 41, said from the family's Forest Hill, La., home.

Young held Mrs. Messer's head above water and struggled to pull her to shore. His father then helped him bring her to safety. The teen-ager and Mrs. Messer have since become fast friends, according to Mrs. Young.

''They were friends before, but now they're real, real close,'' she said. ''We have a pool and he's told her she has to come down this summer to learn to swim.''

The teen-ager was the youngest of 16 people from 10 states and Canada honored for risking their lives to save others. The honorees were awarded a bronze medal and $2,500. Three of the 16 died in the rescue attempts.

The non-profit commission has honored 6,985 Americans and Canadians since it was founded by industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1904.

Among the latest recipients is Edward F. Person, 31, a farmer from Moultonborough, N.H., who said he didn't think think twice when he rushed to help a state police officer struggling with a prisoner over her gun.

''It's just something that had to be done,'' he said. ''Maybe it's a little different here than other parts of the country. But out here, when somebody's in trouble, you give them a hand. You think about the consequences later. Luckily, nobody got hurt.''

Person said he had just returned to his vegetable and poultry farm Aug. 14, 1984, when he saw a police car pull off the road and heard cries for help. He rushed over and found Trooper Kathleen M. Harte struggling with a prisoner.

Person leaned into the car and put his hands over the trooper's gun to keep it from going off. Harte broke free, and both she and Person fled to safety.

The prisoner escaped in the car, but was tracked down two days later and committed suicide.

Also recognized Thursday were:

-Mary Elizabeth Brayboy, 44, of Baton Rouge, La., who prevented two co- workers from being shot by an enraged employee at their office in Carville, La., on March 29, 1984.

-Kerry E. Cochran, 30, of Parkersburg, W.Va., who rescued a truck driver from his burning rig near Knightstown, Ind., on Feb. 20, 1985.

-Gloria Duncan, 27, of Fort St. James, British Columbia, who saved a woman from being stabbed to death along a rural road near Pinchi, British Columbia, on May 14, 1984.

-Bertha Flores, 30, a temporary worker at a home for adolescent girls in Brawley, Calif., who helped two residents escape when fire engulfed the home on Feb. 15, 1984. The Calexico, Calif., resident died while attempting to rescue her 5-month-old son, Victor, from the building. The infant also died.

-Kurt Lee Gain, 18, of Seldovia, Alaska, who saved two boys from drowning in a lake in Anchorage, Alaska, on Sept. 8, 1984.

-Samuel M. Graves Sr., 60, of Fairfield, Ala., who died after trying to save a child from a burning mobile home in Brighton, Ala., on Jan. 5, 1985.

-Oscar E. Harper, 42, of Athens, Ga., who saved a 4-year-old neighbor boy from being shot to death by a man who had just gunned down the child's mother at their home on Sept. 7, 1985.

-James L. Hoban III, 33, of Bear, Del., who saved a man from drowning in the Atlantic Ocean near Chincoteague, Va., on July 7, 1985.

-Kenneth Levi Jackson, 30, of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, who dove into the frigid waters of the Georges River in Nova Scotia on April 12, 1984, to save a woman from drowning.

-Robert Pacheco, 40, of Westport, Mass., who saved a man from being struck by a falling crane in Jersey City, N.J., on Jan. 18, 1984.

-Tomas R. Pepin, 33, of New Britain, Conn., who died trying to save a woman from drowning in a stream near Matunuck, R.I., on Sept. 8, 1985. Both were carried by the current into the Atlantic Ocean. The woman survived.

-Anthony T. Sena, 19, of San Bernardino, Calif., who tried to save a woman from being stabbed to death in the convenience store where he worked in San Bernardino on April 14, 1984. The woman later died.

-Neal T. Wholey, 19, of West Hartford, Conn., who saved a 13-year-old girl from drowning in the Connecticut River near Rocky Hill, Conn., on June 28, 1985.

-John Woodhouse, 22, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, who rescued a man from a burning car in Edmonton on Feb. 3, 1985.