Julia after winning her gymnastics championship

Julia Lynn was a talented gymnast. She had just taken first place at a regional gymnastics competition and her future looked bright. On a day out with friends in June 2022, that future changed dramatically when Julia went out water tubing, an activity where participants ride an inner tube pulled behind a boat by a tow rope.

The fun outing at Shasta Lake turned scary when two tubes being pulled behind the same boat collided. One tube landed on the other, trapping the 15-year-old. When the tubes hit another wake, Julia was freed but was thrown into the water. The accident left her without feeling on the left side of her body.

“At first, I didn’t really realize I was hurt. But then my arm got super swollen,” Julia said. “It turned blue and got really cold. I knew that was not normal.”

Julia in recovery

When she arrived at the local hospital near her home in Cottonwood, in Shasta County, Julia couldn’t feel anything as doctors poked her. No response to the hot and cold test either. Julia’s mom Melissa Lynn recalls the doctor saying it might be a spinal cord injury.

“I thought it was a pinched nerve or something,” Melissa recalled. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

The next thing the Lynns knew, Julia was being transported to UC Davis Children’s Hospital for critical care. This was possible thanks to patient-centered partnerships with more than two dozen hospitals across Northern California, as UC Davis Health works to improve access to care across the region.

“I flew in a helicopter to the airport and by the time we boarded the plane to Sacramento, I had no feeling in my leg at all,” Julia said.

Read Julia’s full story