‘My heart weighs heavy.’ Event will honor Waterford toddler whose death is unsolved

Family and friends of Koltyn Sparks-Blackwood of Waterford, whose death at 23 months remains unsolved, will honor him with an Oct. 19 fundraiser.

Koltyn suffered fatal injuries while in the care of a Sonora babysitter on Jan. 15, his family said earlier. The case is under investigation by the Sonora Police Department and the Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office.

The fundraiser will feature a “poker run” with stops for drivers in Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties. Drivers at each stop will draw cards that lead to prizes. This will be followed in Waterford by a spaghetti dinner and a raffle.

The proceeds will go to raising awareness about Koltyn and children who have been abused.

“Always on my mind,” said a recent post on the Facebook page for Koltyn. “My heart weighs heavy as each day passes. It has been too long! Not sure people even understand, it’s made us sick, our minds continue to go over the days in question full of grief, anger and scenarios of his murder plague our world.”

Koltyn was the son of Nicole Sparks of Waterford and Joshua Blackwood of Oakdale. The family said in May that the boy suffered blunt force trauma to his abdomen and was shaken and possibly smothered.

It happened when he was in the care of a babysitter on South Shepherd Street, the family said. He was brought to Sonora Adventist Health hospital, then airlifted to UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento. He died later that day.

The babysitter has not been identified.

Koltyn’s family and friends staged protests in the spring over the pace of the investigation. One was outside the Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office, which provides services under contract to Tuolumne County.

The poker run will start at 11 a.m. at Ryderz restaurant, 875 E. F St., Oakdale. It will go to Knights Ferry, Sonora and La Grange before ending at the Outpost Saloon, 13815 Yosemite Blvd., Waterford.

The poker run costs $20 through Monday, Oct. 14, and $25 afterward. Takeout dinners are $10. More information is on the Justiceforkoltyn page on Facebook.

John Holland covers breaking news and has been with The Modesto Bee since 2000. He has covered agriculture for the Bee and at newspapers in Sonora and Visalia. He was born and raised in San Francisco and has a journalism degree from UC Berkeley.