Steven Tougher funeral: NSW Paramedic fatally stabbed to death while on job farewelled by loved ones
The heavily pregnant wife of a paramedic who was fatally stabbed outside a McDonald’s has vowed to teach their two children that their father was a hero.
Steven Tougher, 29, was reported to have been stabbed multiple times in the car park of a McDonald’s in Campbelltown, southwest Sydney, at about 5:30am on April 14.
The paramedic and former NSW Ambulance nurse was married to the love of his life for just seven weeks before he was fatally stabbed in his ambulance.
At his memorial service on Monday, his wife Madison told mourners she had made a “new vow” to her late husband and “love forever.”
“On that day I made a promise to you, swore to love you for the rest of my life, and became your wife,” she said.
“Today, just seven weeks later, I make a new vow to you.
“Today I promise our two beautiful children will always know what a selfless, hard-working, kind, compassionate person you were.
“They will forever understand how their father was a hero who helped people through the most painful and sickest of times.”
NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dr. Dominic Morgan posthumously presented Mr Tougher with a Pandemic Service Medal and a National Medal during the service, which was held at the University of Wollongong, south of Sydney.
Steven Tougher, 29, was reported to have been stabbed multiple times in the car park of a McDonald’s in Campbelltown, southwest Sydney, at around 5:30 a.m. on April 14.
Paramedic Steven Tougher’s coffin arrives in a hearse Monday morning at his memorial at the University of Wollongong, south of Sydney.
Paramedic Steven Tougher (right) married the love of his life, Madison (left), just four weeks before he was stabbed to death outside a McDonald’s in southwest Sydney
The commissioner led tributes during the service on Monday, describing him as a “young man of boundless potential, taken too soon.”
“Each of his colleagues has spoken so positively of his larger-than-life personality, his sense of humor, but also a strong sense of natural justice,” he said.
He thanked the responding paramedics and doctors who “went to great lengths to do everything in their power to save Steve’s life.”
“Few will know how far you’ve gone,” he said.
Mr. Tougher’s family received the National Medal of Service from Governor General David Hurley in recognition of the duties he is said to have performed.
NSW Prime Minister Chris Minns, Health Minister Ryan Park, the late paramedic’s NSW Ambulance colleagues and his friends and relatives attended the service.
The formal ceremony began at 11 a.m., with ambulance and police helicopters flying overhead as paramedics formed a guard of honor to escort Mr. Tougher’s hearse.
REM’s Everybody Hurts played as the coffin, draped with the NSW Ambulance Service flag, was carried into service by family members.
Madison, Mr. Tougher’s wife, father Jeff, and sister Jess all spoke at the ceremony along with his friends and a fellow paramedic.
The prime minister told mourners the young paramedic “represents the best of us.”
Mr and Mrs Tougher (above) were due to welcome a new baby in the coming weeks – a fundraiser started to help their family and has raised over $500,000
Police officers attended the memorial for young paramedic Steven Tougher on Monday
Mr Tougher’s coffin was draped with a NSW Ambulance Service flag
Women carried large bouquets of flowers to the University of Wollongong
Paramedics formed a guard of honor to escort Mr. Tougher’s hearse to the site
“Selfless, courageous and dedicated, motivated not by wealth or money or status, but by the need to help others,” Mr Minns said.
“It is rare for anyone to choose that life as their calling. But as Steven’s family told me, it was a life he was determined to live from the very beginning.
“The pain we feel today is driven in part by a deep desire to fill the place of life that Steven will not inhabit.”
Heartbreaking scenes unfolded two weeks ago as more than 20 members of Mr. Tougher’s family visited the scene of his death.
They lay flowers on the mountain with tributes from mourners, then share an emotional tribute to their “hero.”
“Steven had an uncanny ability to connect with people, really understand their needs, and provide care with genuine warmth and empathy,” the Tougher family said shortly after his death.
“He was always ready with a smile, a kind word or a helping hand and brought joy to those around him.”
The young paramedic had married just weeks before his untimely death and had raised more than $500,000 for Madison and his children.
It is clear that Mr. Tougher was nearing the end of his night shift when a stranger lunged at him and repeatedly stabbed him in the stomach.
Mr. Tougher attended Charles Sturt University and received his paramedic degree in mid-2022 (pictured, Mr. and Mrs. Tougher at his graduation)
Mr Tougher and his wife Madison were married just four weeks before the tragic incident (the couple are pictured dancing at their wedding)
Mr. Tougher and his colleague had been “working hard all night” and at that point were taking a meal break in a McDonalds parking lot.
As police rushed to the scene and arrested his alleged attacker, Mr Tougher was rushed to Liverpool Hospital in critical condition, where he later died.
Jordan Fineanganofo, 21, has been charged with murder. He remains in custody and is due to appear in court in Sydney on June 28.
His lawyer told AAP the day after the attack that his client had undergone extensive psychiatric treatment, but was “off treatment and medication” at the time of the alleged stabbing.
Mr. Tougher attended Charles Sturt University, where he chaired the online student representation committee.
Before graduating, Mr. Tougher worked as a nurse at Wollongong Private Hospital. In mid-2022 he obtained his paramedic diploma.
He became a paramedic trainee in May 2022 and was just weeks away from paternity leave when he was killed.
Mr. Tougher’s father, Jeff, is leading the charge for tougher laws to protect aid workers and make sure what happened to his son never happens again.
Mr Tougher (above) had reportedly dreamed of becoming a paramedic since he was five years old but was tragically killed just months after joining the NSW Ambulance team
It is understood that Mr. Tougher was filling out paperwork for the end of his night shift when he was stabbed in the back of his ambulance (above)
NSW Police received a code one call at about 5:30am on Friday when Mr Tougher was stabbed repeatedly in the abdomen (pictured, police on scene)
“I hope Steven’s loss will not be in vain and that this senseless act can be a catalyst for change, in support of better working conditions for his siblings in blue,” he told reporters at the time.
“No one deserves the grief this event has caused.”
He said he wants mandatory life sentences for offenders found guilty of killing aid workers.
NSW Health Minister Susan Pearce burst into tears as she offered her condolences to the victim’s family.
“The health system is one big family and to lose someone like this is just incomprehensible to us,” she said
“And to lose someone in this way is incomprehensible to us.
“I want to express my deepest condolences to the paramedic’s wife and family.”