The newlywed paramedic who was fatally stabbed outside a Sydney fast-food restaurant has been described by his family as an “exceptional” man, whose compassion “touched the lives” of many.
- Former nurse turned paramedic, Steven Tougher, was fatally stabbed just hours before the end of his shift
- He has been described as caring, giving and charismatic
- Jordan Fineanganofo, 21, was charged with his murder on Friday night
Steven Tougher, 29, was on a break with his NSW Ambulance colleagues outside a Campbelltown McDonald’s when they activated a duress alarm at 5:30am on Friday.
He was just hours away from the end of his shift.
Mr Tougher was treated at the scene before being rushed to Liverpool Hospital, where he later died.
His wife, Madison — who he married just five weeks before his death — is “due to have her second child in a few short weeks”, according to a fundraising page set up in his honour that’s already collected more than $200,000.
In a statement released via NSW Police, wife Madison, his parents and sister said his, “dedication to helping others shone brightest during his work as a NSW Ambulance paramedic and previously as a nurse”:
“But it wasn’t just his medical expertise that made him exceptional.
“He had a way of calming fears, offering words of solace, and showing kindness in the midst of chaotic or traumatic events.
“Steven had an uncanny ability to connect with people, to truly understand their needs, and to provide care with genuine warmth and empathy.
“He was always ready with a smile, a kind word, or a lending hand and brought joy to those around him.”
The family has requested privacy while they’re still grieving, but say they are grateful for the love and support they’ve received.
Social media is also wash with tributes for the paramedic and former nurse.
“Steve was one the first mates I ever had,” Paul Harrison, who grew up in Wollongong and was his neighbour, wrote on Facebook.
Mr Harrison said his friend’s “caring and giving side” always shone, but his “final goal” of becoming a paramedic was “something he’d always dreamed of”.
“Steve, you made it,” he said.
Emma Gedge — who was a union branch official with Mr Tougher when he worked as a registered nurse — said he was a “true hero”.
“We will never forget his big smiles, cheeky giggles and charismatic personality,” she said, adding that she can’t comprehend how his family are feeling.
“For his new wife, your husband was an amazing guy, and his legacy is going to live on in his kids.”
On Friday evening, 21-year-old Jordan Fineanganofo was charged with one count of murder.
He was tasered at the scene before being arrested by police.
He did not apply for bail at Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday morning, but can make a bail application before his case returns to court on June 28.
Mr Fineanganofo’s lawyer, Javid Faiz, told media outside court his client was being treated for mental health issues and is “fully aware of the gravity of the offences”.
“We will allow the matter to take its natural course,” Mr Faiz said.
New South Wales Health Minister Ryan Park said the ambulance service was doing everything it could to support Mr Tougher’s family, his colleagues, and the wider health network after this “terrible incident”.
“Every available resource, whether it’s in terms of counselling and support, financial assistance [will be provided] to allow the family some form of recovery,” he said.
“They are going through what is unimaginable pain right now.
“He was taken down in a way that I don’t think this city, or this nation will ever forget.”
Mr Park said that, while the immediate focus was on supporting the family, the government would look into how it could make paramedics’ work safer.
Mr Tougher’s death has sent shock waves through the emergency services community, with several paramedics visiting the scene to lay flowers this morning.
Firefighters have also paid homage, with Riverwood Station changing their sign to read: “Our hearts go out to our ambo family.”
On Friday, NSW Health secretary Susan Pearce was brought to tears as she paid tribute to the man and his team of paramedics.
“The health system is one big family and to lose someone in this way is incomprehensible to us.”