ALBION, Mich. — According to Albion Department of Public Safety Chief Scott Kipp, Zachary Winston, the brother of Michigan State University All-American basketball player Cassius Winston, was killed Saturday night after being struck by an Amtrak train.
The Detroit Free Press originally confirmed Zachary Winston's identity, which was later confirmed to 13 ON YOUR SIDE by Albion Public Safety.
The incident happened around 7:30 p.m. at the pedestrian crossing just west of Erie Street.
Amtrak tweeted Saturday night, saying the Wolverine Train 354 was stopped west of Albion "due to an earlier trespasser incident east of Battle Creek." They later tweeted that the train was running again but behind schedule.
A spokesperson with Amtrak, Kimberly Woods, said Amtrak train 355 came into contact with a person on the track. Woods says that service was temporarily suspended and no one on board was injured.
The Albion Department of Public Safety said that a 19-year-old Albion college student "intentionally walked in front of a westbound Amtrak train, tragically ending his life."
Zachary Winston was a three-year varsity player at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School. He and the Britons played No. 1 MSU in an exhibition game on Oct. 29, but Zachary did not play due to injury. However, both Cassius and their younger brother Khy Winston, a Briton, played in that game.
In one game this season, Zachary played 15 minutes and had three points in the Britons' 71-52 loss to Mount Union.
According to his bio on the Albion Athletics website, Zachary Winston chose Albion because "it felt like a second home ever since his first visit to campus." He also "likes to talk and learn about others and their everyday lives." He was a finance major concentrating in Albion's Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management.
Zachary and his roommate and teammate, Milton "M.J." Barnes, reported racist messages and swastikas that had been left on the whiteboard outside of their dorm room since December, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Zachary's brother, Khy, is a freshman at Albion.
Albion College President Mauri Ditzler issued the following statement to the Albion College community:
"As a community, our hearts are broken today as we share the news of the passing of one of our students, Zachary Winston. 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."
Michigan State University's head basketball coach Tom Izzo issued this statement on behalf of the team:
“Our hearts are filled with sorrow for the Winston family. 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.”
Sunday night, Cassius Winston was in the starting lineup for the Spartans in their game against Binghamton. A moment of silence was held for Zachary before the game started, which was held at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Posts on social media from numerous Michigan State athletes, coaches and community members came pouring in after the news broke:
Editor's note: If you or someone you know if feeling suicidal, please talk to somebody. Here are some numbers to call:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- Mental Health Association in Michigan - 248-647-1711
- Summit Point – 24 Hour Crisis – 1-800-632-5449
- Summit Point Youth Mobile Crisis Team – 269-441-5945
- Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 74174
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