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Man Found Burning Near Dumpster Dies

A man who appeared to be homeless died of his injuries Tuesday evening after he possibly set himself on fire trying to stay warm behind some commercial buildings on Southwest Highway, police say.

An unidentified man died Tuesday evening after a passerby saw him on fire in the 9900 block of Southwest Highway.

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By the time Oak Lawn and Burbank firefighters arrived at the scene, the man was already dead, according to the Oak Lawn police.

Commander Det. Randy Palmer, of the Oak Lawn Police Department, said that a citizen driving by reported a man burning in a Dumpster area around 9:39 p.m. The citizen stopped and tried to extinguish the flames.

Burbank firefighters were the first to arrive on the scene, but the man was already deceased. Palmer said the man appeared to be homeless and living behind the commercial buildings on Southwest Highway.

“It appears it was an accidental fire,” Palmer said. “He tired to stay warm or was smoking and caught on fire.”

The man apparently had a bed in the enclosed bricked area behind the former ReMax building. Palmer said the man could have possibly fallen asleep while smoking in bed or started a fire trying to stay warm.

“We’re surprised that the garbage men or somebody didn’t notice him back there and call us,” the police commander said. “That’s unusual.”

The body was brought to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy on Wednesday. Oak Lawn police are working at identifying the man so they can notify his family members.

“It’s a sad case,” Palmer said.

S. Kael April 04, 2013 at 01:28 AM
To everyone involved or there. I had no obligation of stopping but my love of my job and hearing of a possible victim inclined my partner and I to go. We were passerby just like any one else. We were on the scene less than a minute after the tones went off. Which means way before anyone. I don't want to explain anything my partner and I did but we heard there was a victim and acted. I'm sorry but through training I know where to put my ambulance on a fire scene. We also loaded our strecher up with all of our equipment not knowing what we were gonna encounter. I will do anything to save anyone!!! I once worked for you wonderful oaklawn fire dept but sadly was laid off 5 years ago. We love our jobs and that's what I get paid to do. I know it was probably horrible to see but the patient was not alive anymore. I realize as a lay person it looks like we aren't doing anything as medics or firefighters but I assure you that as we have been trained it is a well tuned orchestra with the best possible end results in any type of situation. I hope I helped last night with any efforts. Thank you
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) April 04, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Debbie and Maggie, Please email me at lorraine.swanson@patch.com.
Not A Bimbette April 04, 2013 at 02:46 AM
S. Kael, Thank you and Bob Lanz for all that you do for the citizens of you villages. I can't imagine that what you see and do Daily doesn't affect you and your families. God Bless All Involved.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) April 04, 2013 at 02:47 AM
Debbie and Maggie, If you haven't done so already please call OLPD investigations at 708 422-8292.
PD April 04, 2013 at 03:09 AM
I totally agree!!!!
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 08:51 PM
So very true YOU CAN THANK OBAMA FOR THAT ONE.... ITS OK ONLY A FEW MORE YEARS THEN A REAL PRESIDENT TAKES OVER.
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 08:57 PM
HOG WASH, THAT IS WAY TO HARD TO BELIEVE, DID IT EVER OCCUR TO YOU THAT THEY HAVE PARKED THERE BECAUSE THEY DID NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE UP AGAINST? YOU PEOPLE OUT HERE CAN CRITICIZE THE FIRE AND RESCUE AND SAY WHAT YOU WANT. IF IT WAS NOT FOR OAK LAWN FIRE AND RESCUE I WOULD HAVE BEEN DEAD MYSELF. THEY SAVED MY LIFE AND EVEN THOUGH THE PERSON IN THE OTHER VEHICLE WAS CRITICAL TOO THEY GOT TO BOTH OF US, AFTER HEARING WHAT THE OTHER DRIVER WAS GOING THROUGH I ASKED THEM TO HELP THE OTHER DRIVER INSTEAD OF ME. SO PLEASE WHEN YOU MAKE A COMMENT LIKE THAT I HOPE TO GOD YOU NEVER HAVE TO WAIT FOR THEM. CAUSE YOU NEVER WILL.. THE OAK LAWN FIRE AND RESCUE ARE A AWESOME TEAM PUT TOGETHER BY WHAT I THINK IS THE BEST CHIEF IN THE COUNTRY. SO PLEASE TAKE IN PERSPECTIVE BEFORE YOU TALK ANYTHING ELSE IS JUST TRASH,,,,, AND OH BY THE WAY, YES MY CAR HAD A SMALL FIRE UNDER IT FROM THE IMPACT, THAT DID NOT STOP THE PARAMEDIC'S FROM GETTING ME OUT OF THE CAR, THEY COULD HAVE WALKED AWAY BUT THEY DID'NT...... BE A FIREMAN OR A PARAMEDIC AND SEE WHAT THEY SEE MORE ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS I HOPE THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR TUNE.... SHAMEFULL
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:04 PM
VERY WELL SAID BOB GOD BLESS YOU, IN MY EYES REGARDLESS ALL FIRE FIGHTER AND MEDICS ARE HERO'S YOU ALL FIGHT THE SAME CAUSE TO SAVE LIVES. JUST LIKE THE BROTHER'S AND SISTER'S OF RED DID IN NEW YORK ON 9/11 MY SON WHO IS 15 NOW EVERYTIME HE SEE'S A FIRE FIGHTER, HE SAYS "THANK YOU" THE FIREMEN AND WOMEN LOOK AT HIM AND ASK "FOR WHAT" HIS REPLY WAS SAVING MY GRANDFATHER IN NEW YORK, HE DID NOT KNOW AT THE TIME WHERE NEW YORK WAS , BUT HE KNEW A FIREFIGHTER SAVED HIS LIFE..... THAT IS WORTH MORE THE ANY MONEY OR GOLD IN THIS WORLD AND OH YEAH MY FATHER INLAW? HE IS DOING WELL AND WE GO THERE EVER 9/11 TO GIVE TRIBUTE TO THE GUYS IN RED...... AND BLUE
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:05 PM
TOM PEOPLE HAVE TO CRITICIZE SOMEONE ALL THE TIME. I AGREE IF HE DID TRY TO HELP THEN HE IS A HERO, BUT STOP GLOATING ABOUT IT AND REMEMBER A FAMILIES LIFE IS CRASHED NOW.
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:09 PM
SEAN HOW DO YOU KNOW , ARE YOU A PSYCHIC? OR WAIT A BRAIN MASTER, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT THOSE PEOPLE WERE THINKING? AGAIN OFF THE SUBJECT OF A PERSON WHO LOST HIS LIFE AND HIS FAMILY HAS TO PUT THE PIECES BACK TOGETHER AGAIN... SUPPORT THE FAMILY AND YOU NEVER KNOW YOU MIGHT NEED THEM SOMEDAY...... TRASH TALK IS SO OVERRATED. BUT YOUR OPINION AND FREE SPEECH GIVES THAT TO YOU. DON'T ABUSE IT.... WHEN YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO LASH OUT,THEN i SUGGEST YOU ASK A MEDIC OR FIREFIGHTER WHAT HE HAS TO DEAL WITH MENTALLY, THEN YOU SHOULD GIVE YOUR OPINION...
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:11 PM
I AM SURE THAT IS NOT REALLY THE WHOLE TRUTH, WE TAKE A OATH, SO I FIND IT HARD TO BELIEVE, I WISH BURBANK FIRE DEPARTMENT WOULD RESPOND HERE, I AM SURE SEAN IS NOT REALLY FOCUSED ON THE BIG ISSUE...
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:13 PM
AGAIN EVERY FIRE FIGHTER AND RESCUE HAS TO TAKE IN CONSIDERATION NO MATTER HOW MANY PEOPLE YELL WHAT THEY DO. 1 THEY HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE AREA IS SAFE FOR ALL NOT JUST THE VICITIM. YOU BEING THERE AND NOT KNOWING WHAT THE FLAMES OR SMOKE WAS MADE OF YOU COULD HAVE DAMAGED SOMETHING INSIDE. WAKE UP, SMELL THE COFFEE AND REMEMBER AS I WAS KEEP SAYING , THINK OF THE FAMILY AND WHAT THEY ARE GOING THROUGH... PERIOD THAT IS ALL THAT SHOULD MATTER,.
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:19 PM
HOW MUCH WERE YOU DRINKING IF YOU WERE AT THE BAR? DID YOU KNOW WATER CAN CAUSE AS MUCH DAMAGE TO THE HUMAN SKIN THEN FIRE DOES ALONE? THINK ABOUT IT "KELLY" WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TAKE A GLASS THAT WAS SITTING IN A FIRE AND DIP IN ANY TYPE OF WATER, IT SHATTER'S SO MAYBE JUST MAYBE THAT COLD WATER YOU USED, COULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING TO THE BODY AFTER BEING BURNED SO BADLY....SO HERE IS A SUGGESTION AND ANYONE WANT TO TELL ME DIFFERENT AND NEVER HAD TO GO THROUGH WITH GETTING YOUR BODY BURNED, WELL LOOK UP 3 YEARS AGO OF A CAR ACCIDENT IN BURBANK BY THE TOOSTIE ROLL FACTORY, MY LEGS WERE BURNED AND THESE FIRE FIGHTERS SAVED MY LIFE... TAKE A GOOD HARD LOOK AT YOURSELF BEFORE YOU JUDGE OTHER'S YOUR HELPING COULD HAVE CAUSED MORE DAMAGE THEN YOU THINK... HMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:21 PM
JENNIFER AMEN, I SO MUCH AGREE WITH YOU....
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:22 PM
GOOD POINT AND I MEAN A VERY GOOD POINT, AS I WAS SAYING ALL ALONG
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:23 PM
AGREE ANDY AMEN YOU TOO ARE A PERSON OF REASONING..
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:24 PM
MAGGIE, EX-WIFE OR NOT, YOU STILL SUFFERED A TRAGIC LOST, MY PRAYERS GOES FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.. JUST BECAUSE YOUR THE "EX" DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN CANT BE HEARD GOD BLESS YOU..... AND WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU TOO
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:25 PM
DEBBIE AS I SAID FOR MAGGIE, I SO MUCH AGREE, AND AS TO MAGGIE WE WILL PRAY FOR YOU AS WELL, TO FIND COMFORT AND KNOW HE IS IN GODS HANDS NOW. GOD BLESS YOU.....
David Wilkins April 04, 2013 at 09:31 PM
S.KAEL JUST FOR BEING THERE YOU ARE A HERO NO MATTER WHAT THESE FOOLS MAY SAY OR DO. IT TAKES A TOLL OUT OF A PERSON TO WEAR THE UNIFORM YOU WHERE, AND I KNOW YOU WEAR IT WITH PRIDE. YOU DO NOT NEED TO RECTIFY OR EXPLAIN YOURSELF TO THESE PEOPLE. YOU DID WHAT YOU HAD TO DO. AND YOU DO EVERYDAY. THE MINUTE YOU ARE IN THAT AMBULANCE ,FIRETRUCK WHAT EVER AND THAT SIREN IS ON "YOUR A HERO" as i said it takes a toll on a person to do your job. NO ONE CAN SAY ANYTHING THAT WOULD MAKE ME SAY ANY DIFFERENT, GOD BLESS PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND YOUR PARTNER, TOO BAD PEOPLE HAVE TO USE THE DARK SIDE OF IT TO MAKE A POINT.... YOUR A HERO AND I AM SURE MR BREWSTER KNEW YOU DID WHAT YOU HAD TO DO.
Kelly Williams April 04, 2013 at 11:23 PM
Okay "David" all your comments are completely unnecessary. You weren't there. No one is bashing the paramedics or fire department, they are amazing people who do amazing things on a daily basis. To set the record straight, Kelly had not been drinking at all. We had just left Sean's hockey game at oak lawn ice arena. When you are put in a situation like that you just react, so no, no one thought water would be a bad idea. All we are saying is when normal every day people got to the scene we jumped out of or vehicles and ran to James and did whatever we could to try and save him. We are not gloating and do not think we deserve a metal. You don't have to sit there and replay what happened over and over again in your head wishing you could have saved this mans life. My heart breaks for this family and everyone who had to witness it. You say trash talking is over rates yet you commented to every single person saying something negative. Just leave it alone. Everyone did what they could and it wasn't enough, so please just stop.
The Tiger April 04, 2013 at 11:37 PM
I knew him... he gave me clean sox when mine were kinda smelly... he intentionally blew himself up... good man, shitty life... the shelter closed on the 1st... he was pissed off for a week and finally he escaped his shitty life...
Chris Bumber April 05, 2013 at 02:28 AM
I'm close friends with the family, and thanx to everybody who tried to help, but please respect Debbie's and the family's wishes by leaving this alone,and let Jim be at peace.
Mike Palumbo April 05, 2013 at 04:44 PM
I agree with Chris, I am Debbie's brother in law. Yes all is appreciated that was done. Let Jim rest in peace and the family heal from the heartache of this tragedy.
Kelly F April 05, 2013 at 07:47 PM
I apologize to the family for commenting in advance...David Wilkins you are being a complete asshole. You have no idea what we witnessed. We were driving by and stopped to help, we are not medics, firefighters or nurses. We are average everyday people. Those people are amazing and incredible for what they do everyday!! You don't know me, how dare you bash me for trying to help another human being. If you can read, you would have seen I said we RAN to the bar, which was in the same strip mall. We were never at the bar, we were on our way home from Oak Lawn Ice Arena. In the heat of the moment you don't think it's a bad idea to use water to put out a fire. You have no idea what you're talking about, quit bashing every single person that was there and commented. Mind your own business, no one is bashing the firefighters, we simply stated what we felt. No one asked about your accident, we were talking about this tragedy and you made it about you. It's terrible you went through that, but it's not about you right now. There was no reason for you to respond to every comment acting like you're better than us. Rip James My heart goes out to this family <3
Brandon Willis April 06, 2013 at 03:02 AM
Don't bother trying to find the family. The family already knows. I'm friends with the daughter of this man on facebook and she's being really strong about this. It's sad, but she understands that it happens. Their whole family already knows, so you don't need to identify him, they could tell you who it was.
maggie brewer April 06, 2013 at 05:44 PM
To all that have written about this tragedy please stop the bashing of the depts and people. I can only imagine for those who tried to help on how this affects u. U were there my daughters and I only have an image of all that transpired to his last breath. Everyday my girls are afraid of closing their eyes cuz they are afraid of bring visited by their dad engulfed in flames. The minute I wake up that image haunts me every minute I am awake. Jim passing was for the best cuz he would of suffered. He suffered enough thru his trials and tribulations. He is with his parents and with Jesus. He doesn't have to worry if he will eat today or be bullyed by a teenager at the park he is no longer cold and no longer fighting alcoholism he is in a better place. Those of u that were there I hope u come to the memorial because I really would like to give u a big hug for your efforts. O will post info about the memorial which will hopefully b on about a week or so.
rayzer April 10, 2013 at 05:15 PM
R.I.P Jimmy boy....aka jacuzzi jim... no more hard times, no more under the bridge, or in your little cubby hole... your home now.. we all remember you me, Lisa, Rob, Eskimo Chris, Tony, John, Ryan,and many more....211 baby...tip the bottle...
Kelly Williams April 11, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Maggie, Again I am so sorry for your loss. Your family remains in my thoughts and prayers. Please let us know any details about the memorial, I know a few of us would like to come pay our respects.
Mick Wagner April 15, 2013 at 07:28 AM
I overhead some gossip someone heard another homeless man( I think I heard themsay his name was Tim?) talking to himself saying I burn you like I did to Jim. Then I also heard something about a propane tank. Murder or an accident? Anyways RIP Jim n sorry Deb :c
maggie brewer April 17, 2013 at 07:29 PM
the Oak lawn patch will post information for the memorial mass. Debbie and I really would like for those of you that did help and were there to please come.

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