How did Joseph Kromelis die? Chicago’s Walking Man cause of death explained

Joseph Kromelis

Joseph Kromelis popularly known as Chicago’s Walking Man died on Sunday afternoon at the age of 75. Let’s see, how the Chicago’s Walking Man died and Joseph Kromelis cause of death in detail.

How did Joseph Kromelis die? 

The Cook County medical examiner’s office reports that Joseph Kromelis, 75, passed away on December 11, 2022. The ‘Walking Man’ of Chicago died on Sunday, several months after he was set on fire while sleeping on the Lower Wabash Avenue.

The 75-year-old Joseph Kromelis passed away on Sunday afternoon. Kromelis, a homeless man known to frequent the Loop’s streets, was resting under blankets in the 400 block of North Lower Wabash Avenue on the night of May 25.

When surveillance cameras showed Joseph Guardia, 27, going up and silently hovering over him for 16 seconds, prosecutors said in a May court hearing.

Joseph Kromelis cause of death:

The footage purportedly shows Guardia is strolling to a nearby junction, then returning and pouring gasoline over Kromelis’ uncovered head and igniting it. Joseph Kromelis cause of death was injuries sustained from the fire incident.

The 75-year-old was set on fire for about three minutes, and at first, doctors predicted he wouldn’t survive. Over 65% of his body was burned to the third degree, and his upper body was completely consumed by fire.

Kromelis was discharged from Stroger Hospital four months later and continued to heal at a rehabilitation facility, requiring additional procedures.

Joseph Kromelis, affectionately known as Chicago’s “Walking Man,” died on Sunday afternoon, nearly seven months after being set on fire while sleeping near Trump Tower. 

Kromelis passed away at a care facility in the 2400 block of West Touhy at 4:08 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. On Monday, an autopsy will be performed. Joseph Kromelis – the famed “Walking Man” of downtown Chicago slept on the street, when he set fire.

Why did the suspect fired Kromelis?

The only justification given by Guardia was that he was “mad and stated he wanted to burn trash, but did not understand there was a person there.”

Kromelis was on fire for almost three minutes before security personnel quenched the flames. Assistant State’s Attorney Danny Hanichak said during a bail hearing for the 27-year-old Joseph Guardia, the man officials say is responsible for the attack.

Hanichak, a prosecutor for 16 years, told Judge Charles Beach that he had never seen video footage as awful as the Kromelis attack. Guardia poured liquid, thought to be gasoline, from the McDonald’s cup onto Kromelis’ head and burned it on fire, according to Hanichak.

Security personnel at Trump Tower noticed the flames and put out the fire about three minutes after it started. While they awaited emergency personnel, they made an effort to console Kromelis.

Earlier in 2016, Kromelis was severely hurt when someone beat him with a baseball bat and their fists on Lower Wacker Drive. He finally healed and resumed his typical strolls through the city streets. More than $30,000 was raised through crowdsourcing to help cover his medical expenses at the time.

“He has been walking and peddling on the streets of Chicago for at least the last 40 years,” Vytas Vaitkus, whose mother was Kromelis’s sister, told Loop North News in 2016. Before 2016, “the streets are his home; the place he always felt at home.”

According to his sister-in-law, Kromelis immigrated to Chicago from Lithuania and was raised above a bar on Halsted Street. Joseph was 19 years old when his parents sold the bar and shifted to Michigan. Joseph stayed in Chicago and sold jewelry and other items on the streets in the Loop,” Steven Dahlman said.


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