Middleton, a sports enthusiast, had been training for the last year-and-a-half building up to this moment, according to his cycling trainer and close friend, Jeff De La Vega, 37.
“Four days ago I had just written up a training plan for him. ... He wanted to sign up for a category five race,” De La Vega said. “Being in the top 10 would’ve been very eye-opening. You pull off something like that, everybody starts looking at you.”
The dejected tone in De La Vega’s voice trailed off into silence.
Middleton was killed in a hit-and-run accident by a motorist around 6 a.m. on Sunday at South Belt Line Road and Interstate 20 eastbound in Grand Prairie.
Surveillance video released by Grand Prairie police a few hours later showed the suspected female motorist being followed by a witness urging her to return to the scene. The suspect, later identified as Kallie Wright, 38, of Fort Worth, returned with a passenger in her vehicle but left before police arrived, according to witness statements.
De La Vega, who owns the Hilltop Bicycle Center in Mansfield, said he was awakened that morning by the sound of an alert on his phone. It was a text message from a friend asking if he knew Middleton.
“I just said, ‘I’ll answer that later — Of course I know Calvin,’ ” said De La Vega. “Then I got a second text from someone else asking me the same thing; then I jumped out of bed. I immediately started calling Calvin’s phone.”
Those calls wouldn’t be answered.
He reached out to another friend, a first responder for Grand Prairie. That friend was able to inform him about Middleton’s accident. Since then, he’s heard different accounts of how the accident unfolded.
“Some believe if they could’ve just propped him up or held him up maybe he could’ve lived through it. But I don’t know, I haven’t seen the autopsy yet,” he said.
Wright was arrested late Tuesday night and charged with an accident involving death, which is a second-degree felony, according to police. She remains in the Grand Prairie Police Detention Center on a $175,000 bond. The passenger in Wright’s car was also identified, but she is not considered a suspect. No charges will be filed against her, police said.
The pain and grief of losing a friend in an accident — this way — isn’t new to De La Vega.
His best friend, Mike Alfaro, was killed when he was struck by the driver of an sport-utility vehicle while biking eastbound on Camp Wisdom Road in September 2009.
“I’ve been through this because I’ve been in the industry 26 years,” De La Vega said. “Calvin’s accident occurred only about 2 miles from where that accident happened.”
Again, he fell into silence.
A similar stunned feeling was shared by others who knew Middleton, not least among them his younger brother Shon Middleton, who said his brother was loved in the community. He said that although Middleton lived in Cedar Hill, he grew up in Dallas.
“He was born and raised in Dallas and went to Justin F. Kimbell High School and graduated in 1994,” the younger brother said.
During his time at Kimbell, Calvin Middleton played on the baseball team and went on to play at Grambling State University in 1997 alongside his brother, according to his Facebook page. The Facebook page also showcased Middleton’s extensive photography work with local models, including former America’s Next Top Model cycle 15 winner Ann Ward of Dallas.
“Most recently he was a mail carrier for the United States Postal Service. He actually picked up at hubs and dropped off at other hubs in the big box truck,” Shon Middleton said. “He’d been there for about five to six years.”
De La Vega described Middleton as a huge sports fan and athlete. The first time they met, he came into the store inquiring about cycling, De La Vega said.
“He basically said he had run through the gamut of sports and said if cycling didn’t do it for him he would just get old, fat and lazy,” said De La Vega. “We just laughed about it.”
Shortly after that conversation, Middleton showed up at one of De La Vega’s spinning classes where he taught cardiovascular exercises to novice bike riders who might have their sights set on joining a local cycling team.
“I was just keeping an eye on him to see how he was gonna do,” De La Vega said. “Not everyone that comes along has the lion-heart for racing.”
It took about a year to get his legs and lungs up to the task, but Middleton was brought on as a member of the 14-member Hilltop Racing Team. He was currently moving up the ranks in the weekly Wednesday Night Criterium Race in Fort Worth.
“He was in the beginner category (which usually has 20-30 people), but he finished in the top 5 just a couple weeks ago,” De La Vega said. “It inspired him to really start making a push.”
Putting in extra time, and miles, on his bike in the early mornings had become common for Middleton, according to De La Vega.
“He’s a night shift guy so he’s used to riding in the mornings. He’d get off at five in the morning, suit up and go ride,” he said.
Now the Hilltop Racing Team plans to suit up and hold a 42-mile bike ride, 21 miles in each direction, in honor of Calvin’s age, on July 29.
The ride will begin at 7:15 a.m. at the Hilltop Bicycle Center at 130 N. Main St. in Mansfield for experienced riders. Beginners will leave from the B&B Bicycles at 223 FM 1382 suite 127 in Cedar Hill at 8:15 a.m.
The beginners will do a 15-mile ride, 7 1/2 miles each way, and at the midpoint the two groups will converge at the southeast corner of I-20 and Beltline Road around 9 a.m. where a ghost bike currently sits in Middleton’s memory.
“We’re going to have a preacher bless the site and our group (Hilltop Racing Team) is handing off envelope donations to the family,” De La Vega said. “We plan to have an officer with us in suit to talk about the rules of the road and rights of riders. People do need to know we do have a right to be out there.”