Zachary Winston, brother of Cassius Winston, killed after police say he intentionally stepped in front of train

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Zachary Winston, right, jokingly tries to steal the headband from his brother, Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston, during an exhibition game this month at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Zachary Winston, the brother of Michigan State’s Cassius Winston and a sophomore at Albion College, was killed on Saturday night after being struck by a train.

Albion Chief of Public Safety Scott Kipp confirmed Winston was struck by a westbound Amtrak train around 8:30 p.m. near the Erie Street crossing in Albion. The investigation revealed that Winston, 19, appeared to intentionally step in front of the train.

“According to the engineer, the student stepped out in front of the train,” Kipp said. “It appears to be intentionally done.”

Zachary Winston was a member of the Albion basketball team along with younger brother Khy, a freshman. Michigan State hosted Albion for an exhibition game on Oct. 29, but Zach Winston did not play because of an injury. It was the only time the three Winston brothers — all graduates of U-D Jesuit — were on the court together in a college game.

Zachary Winston played in Albion’s regular-season opener on Nov. 8, a 71-52 loss at Mount Union. He scored three points in 15 minutes of action with two assists and two steals. Last season, as a freshman, Zachary Winston played in all 28 games while averaging 2.6 points and 13.8 minutes a game.

On Sunday afternoon, Albion College President Mauri Ditzler released a statement.

"As a community, our hearts are broken today as we share the news of the passing of one of our students, Zachary Winston," the statement read. "Zach was a finance major, a student in the Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management, and member of the Albion College men’s basketball team. Beyond that, he was an extremely charismatic young man with an infectious smile. Zach was a recognized leader who was well known across every facet of our campus, He was a fantastic student with a world of potential before him. He was deeply loved and will be deeply missed.

"As a campus, we have provided opportunities for students, faculty and staff to receive counseling and support in the challenging days ahead. We want all students to know they are not alone.

"Our hearts go out to his brothers, Khy, who is a freshman at Albion, and Cassius, who is a senior at Michigan State University, his parents and his extended family. We echo the family’s request in asking everyone to respect their privacy at this time."

No. 1 Michigan State is scheduled to play Binghamton at 7 p.m. on Sunday night. A little more than an hour before tip-off, Cassius Winston walked onto the Breslin Center court with his youngest brother, Khy. The two sat on the bench for a few minutes, and at one point Khy had his arm around Cassius, who was staring at the floor.

Soon after, Cassius Winston began to warm up for the game. On the pregame show, coach Tom Izzo said it was up to his star guard whether to play.

"We'll be playing with a heavy heart," Izzo said.

Earlier Sunday afternoon, Izzo released a statement on behalf of the Spartans' program. 

“Our hearts are filled with sorrow for the Winston family," the statement read. "Their pain over the sudden loss of Zachary is unimaginable. It’s impossible to find the right words in this moment, other than to say that we will support the family in whatever way they need."

Twitter: @mattcharboneau