‘Walking Man’ Joseph Kromelis released from Stroger Hospital

CHICAGO (CBS)– Joseph Kromelis, known to many in Chicago as the “Walking Man”, was released from Stroger Hospital nearly four months after being set on fire in River North in May.

Cook County health officials have confirmed that he will continue to recover in a rehabilitation center.

“He expects to undergo further surgery as part of his recovery,” officials said in a written statement. “He is grateful for everyone’s concern and asks that his privacy be respected.”

Kromelis was in critical condition and was not expected to survive the attack. His condition has continued to improve over the past four months.

Joseph Guardia, 27, is charged with aggravated arson and attempted murder during the Kromelis attack in the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 25 on Lower Wabash Avenue near Trump Tower. In announcing the allegations against Guardia, Cook County prosecutors said Kromelis we didn’t expect him to survive.

During Guardia’s bail hearing, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Danny Hanichak said Kromelis, 75, slept on the apron of a parking lot on the 400 block of North Wabash Avenue around 3 a.m. on May 25, when Guardia walked past him, holding a cup of gasoline in his hand.

After first driving past Kromelis to the intersection of Kinzie Street and Wabash Avenue, Hanichak said Guardia then returned to where Kromelis was sleeping, poured gasoline on his head , and set him on fire.

The flames quickly spread to Kromelis’ entire upper body, and he was on fire for about three minutes before a security guard at a nearby building was able to get a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, according to Hanichak.

Known for his signature long hair and mustache, and often seen wearing a sports coat, Kromelis is affectionately referred to as “The Walking Man” by Chicagoans who have seen him wander the city streets frequently for decades. Some say he reminds them of George Harrison, others Yanni.


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