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

By Elyssa Kaufman

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    CHICAGO (WBBM) — Joseph Kromelis, known as Chicago’s “Walking Man” has died, months after he was set on fire while sleeping in River North.

Kromelis was sleeping on Lower Wabash Avenue in River North back in May, when a man threw gasoline on his head and set him on fire.

At the time, authorities said the 75-year-old was not expected to survive, but in September, Kromelis was released from the hospital and transferred to a rehab center.

Known for his signature long hair, and mustache, and often seen wearing a sport coat, Kromelis is affectionately called “The Walking Man” by Chicagoans who have seen him frequently roaming the city’s streets for decades.

It’s not clear right now if his death is a result of the injuries from his attack. An autopsy is scheduled for later Monday.

The attack happened around 3 a.m. on May 25. Police said the 75-year-old Kromelis was lying on the ground when another man approached him, poured a flammable liquid on him, set him on fire, and ran off.

Kromelis suffered burns over 40% of his body.

Police said a security officer at a building nearby jumped into action and used a fire extinguisher to get the fire out. Kromelis was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

Joseph Guardia, 27, of Melrose Park, is charged with attempted first-degree murder and arson in the attack on Kromelis.

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