Loved ones call for justice a year after Sonora toddler's mysterious death

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SONORA, Calif. (KTXL) -- Wednesday marked one year since 23-month-old Koltyn Sparks-Blackwood died from a blunt injury sustained in Sonora.

“He was prized from the minute he was born,” said Sparks-Blackwood’s grandmother, Tracy Gulcynski. “Everybody loved him. He was a very, very sweet child.”

Gulcynski said she remembers her young grandson for his fun-loving nature.

“He was everything. He was my youngest grandson and my son's only child,” she told FOX40.

Last January, Sparks-Blackwood was found unresponsive while in the care of the mother's then-boyfriend.

The toddler was flown to UC Davis Medical Center where he died just three weeks shy of his second birthday.

It took nearly four months for police to confirm his cause of death, which was reported as being the result of a blunt injury. At the time, Gulcynski told FOX40 the hospital's report also stated he was possibly smothered.

Police have not named a suspect in the boy's case and no arrests have been made.

“The grief that our family has gone through is not just depression, it's a physical pain and a physical void in our whole family,” his grandmother said.

On Wednesday, family, friends and supporters demonstrated outside of the Tuolumne County courthouse to shine a light on his case. From printed shirts and handmade signs, they were doing all they could to keep the toddler's memory alive.

“Instead of sitting home and mourning, we're out here trying to make a difference,” Gulcynski said.

Gulcynski said she was hoping the demonstration would bring awareness to the case and possibly bring in tips that can help police in their investigation.

The family told FOX40 the 52 weeks following his death were excruciating as they fought for answers in their passionate pursuit of justice.

“We don't have a choice. If we don't fight for Koltyn, who is?” Gulcynski said.

Sonora Police Chief Turu VanderWiel shared a statement with FOX40 about the investigation:

We are still trying to piece together certain aspects of the investigation regarding the injuries that led to Koltyn’s death one year ago. Due to the nature of this investigation, we hadn't anticipated a quick outcome, and I don’t know when this investigation will be complete. What we do know is that somebody caused this child’s death, and we are working very hard to solve the case.

Our hearts go out to Koltyn’s family, and we understand that their pain and frustration must be indescribable.

“Even if we get an arrest and then a long process to getting a conviction, our pain will never go away because we'll never get him back,” Gulcynski said.

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