Chicago’s ‘Walking Man’ dies several months after being set on fire on Lower Wacker

Chicago’s ‘Walking Man’ died Sunday afternoon, several months after he was set on fire as he slept on Lower Wabash Avenue.

Joseph Kromelis, 75, died Sunday afternoon, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Kromelis — a homeless man known for walking the streets of the Loop — was sleeping under blankets in the 400 block of North Lower Wabash Avenue on the night of May 25 when surveillance cameras captured Joseph Guardia, 27, walking up and standing over him silently for 16 seconds, prosecutors said in a court hearing in May.

The video allegedly shows Guardia walking to a nearby intersection then returning and pouring gasoline over Kromelis’ uncovered head and igniting it.

Doctors initially said the 75-year-old was not expected to recover after he was lit on fire for nearly three minutes. His upper body was engulfed in flames, and he suffered third-degree burns over 65% of his body.

About four months later, Kromelis was discharged from Stroger Hospital and continued to recover at a rehab facility, having to undergo additional surgeries.

Guardia provided no other motive than “being an angry person, and claimed he wanted to burn trash but did not realize there was a person there.”

Six years earlier — on May 24, 2016 — Kromelis was brutally beaten by someone with a baseball bat in the 400 block of East Lower Wacker Drive. The two were struggling over the bat when police arrived.

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