As he tracked the movements of Utah's black bears during a summer research project, Steven B. Bates had no idea that his own actions during an intense electrical storm would help save the life of a young hunter.

Bates, a graduate student in wildlife range resources at Brigham Young University, was honored recently by Gov. Norm Bangerter with a "meritorious service award" for coming to the aid of Eric Oepping, 17, of West Valley City on July 26.Oepping was camping with his parents along Pump House Ridge between Diamond Fork and Hobble Creek Canyon above Springville when a violent storm broke out.

Bates noticed the hunter walking in a meadow as he prepared to depart himself, and cautioned the youth to get out of the open area. Bates turned around and saw a bolt of lightning strike the young man, who dropped unconscious to the ground.

Quick action by Bates, who rushed to Oepping's parents nearby to tell them of the accident, helped save the young man's life.

Fortunately, both Bates and the Oeppings knew CPR. The parents, in fact, had just completed a series of lessons on cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

While the Oeppings worked to revive their son, whose heart initially was not beating, Bates jumped in his truck to drive down the mountain and call emergency personnel.

Oepping was taken to a nearby hospital and has recovered with no apparent lasting damage.

"It was a really frightening experience," Bates said.

Oepping's parents and the Utah Department of Natural Resources recommended the award.