Crime

Update: Family of Waterford toddler learns details of how he died in January

Watch protest over boy’s death investigation

People protest Monday near the Stanislaus County Coroner's office in Modesto, Calif. Family and supporters have been waiting for a report on the death investigation of 23 month old Koltyn Sparks-Blackwood who died in Tuolumne County in January.
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People protest Monday near the Stanislaus County Coroner's office in Modesto, Calif. Family and supporters have been waiting for a report on the death investigation of 23 month old Koltyn Sparks-Blackwood who died in Tuolumne County in January.

The family of Waterford toddler Koltyn Sparks-Blackwood learned details Tuesday about the injuries in Sonora that led to his death in January.

Paternal grandmother Tracy Gulcynski said the 23-month-old suffered blunt force trauma to his abdomen and was shaken and possibly smothered while in the care of a babysitter.

She spoke with The Modesto Bee after a phone call with Sonora Police Chief Turu VanderWiel. He could not be reached for comment about a possible suspect or arrest.

Family and friends of Koltyn staged protests in Sonora and Modesto in recent days about the pace of the investigation. They gathered Monday outside the Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office, which contracts with Tuolumne County.

“It’s a relief to know that we weren’t crazy,” Gulcynski said by phone Tuesday evening, “but it’s also hard to believe that someone could hurt our baby.”

Koltyn was the son of Nicole Sparks of Waterford and Joshua Blackwood of Oakdale.

He was in the care of a babysitter on South Shepherd Street on Jan. 15 when he was brought to Sonora Adventist Health hospital with supposed flu symptoms, the family said. The child was airlifted to UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, where he died later that day.

The babysitter has not been identified. VanderWiel said Monday that it was not a family member.

Gulcynski said forensic pathologists continue to try to pinpoint the time of the injuries.

“We are so angry and relieved to know for sure how he died,” she wrote in an update on a Facebook page devoted to Koltyn. “... We will continue our fight and push for an arrest. One thing is clear. He did not die of the flu.”

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