‘Walking Man’ released from hospital months after being set on fire

Doctors initially said the 75-year-old was not expected to recover.

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Joseph Kromelis, better known as “The Walking Man,” in 2011.

Joseph Kromelis, better known as “The Walking Man,” in 2011.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times file photo

Joseph Kromelis, known as “The Walking Man” or “The Walking Dude,” has been released from the hospital about four months after he was set on fire while sleeping on Lower Wabash Avenue.

Doctors initially said the 75-year-old was not expected to recover after he was lit on fire for nearly three minutes the night of May 25. His upper body was engulfed in flames, and he suffered third-degree burns over 65% of his body.

As of Friday, Kromelis had been discharged from Stroger Hospital, but will continue to recover at a rehab facility and will have to undergo additional surgeries.

“He is grateful for everyone’s concern and asks that his privacy be respected,” according to a statement from Cook County Health.

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 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.

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 ago — 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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