Heartbreaking scenes as paramedic farewelled
The heartbroken wife of a paramedic who was allegedly stabbed to death while at work has broken down as she vowed to ensure their children know their dad was a hero.
Steven Tougher, 29, was taking a meal break at Campbelltown McDonald’s when he was allegedly stabbed to death inside his ambulance on April 14.
His shocking death rocked the emergency services and healthcare communities, who flooded social media with tributes to their beloved colleague.
A service was held at the University of Wollongong on Monday to celebrate his life.
Steven’s wife Madison spoke about their wedding day, which was just seven weeks before he died.
“On that day, I made a promise to you, I vowed to love you for the rest of my days and I became your wife,” she said.
“Today, just seven weeks later, I make a new vow to you.
“Today I vow that our two beautiful children will always know what a selfless hardworking, kind, compassionate person you were.
“They will forever understand how their dad was a hero who helped people through the most painful and sickest times.”
She called Steven her “forever love” and remembered telling her friends about him after the first time they met.
“The first time I met you, I knew there was something special about you,” she said.
“I remember coming home from our first time meeting and telling everyone who would listen to me about what kind of guy you were.”
She went on to say that his “calm, reassuring” presence throughout their relationship has stayed with her on this difficult day.
“Your calm reassuring presence never failed to let me know that everything would be okay,” she said.
“I know that you are here with me telling me, ‘You’ve got this’.”
Steve’s parents: ‘My heart has been smashed’
His father Jeff read aloud a heartbreaking letter prepared by his wife Jillian who was too emotional to speak.
“Since he’s been gone, mornings are cloudy and grey and nights are long and dark,” he said before choking up.
“My heart has been smashed, I miss my beautiful boy.”
She said that from the day he was born, Steven was in a hurry – even arriving ahead of a planned caesarean birth.
“It was clear from a young age what was Steven’s calling,” she wrote.
She described the moment he would choose a doctors set at the toy store and at 8-years-old put pamphlets in his neighbours letterboxes saying: “If you need help, call Steven”.
“Lately he would complain about being tired, so much love for others has to take it’s toll,” she said.
She described hours talking with him about his new role as a husband and dad and that he was looking forward to the arrival of his little girl.
Minister breaks down in tears
Minister Health Ryan Park broke down as he reflected on spending time with the family over the last few weeks.
“No words that I say today is going to help that pain,” he said.
Mr Park said he made a promise on the day of Steven’s death to wrap his family with as much care and support as the young paramedic did for the rest of the community.
Premier Minns: ‘The best of us’
Premier Chris Minns said Steven’s death had been felt right across the state of NSW.
“Jeff we’re claiming your boy too,” Mr Minns said while looking in the direction of Steven’s family.
“Because whether you knew him or not he represented the best of us.”
With Mr Tougher’s daughter due to be born in a matter of weeks, Mr Minns said it was his loved ones duty to wrap her in a “blanket of stories about her dad” and his heroic life of service.
Celebration of Steven’s life begins
More than 200 NSW Ambulance crew have volunteered their time to cover shifts to allow Steven’s friends and colleagues to attend the ceremony.
NSW Ambulance Chief Superintendent Alan Morrison said everyone he has spoken to since Mr Tougher’s death has described his “big” heart and smile.
“One person described his heart as big and as tall as him,” he said.
The coffin was carried into the church by Steven’s loved ones before a NSW Ambulance flag is laid over it.
‘Everybody Hurts’ by R. E. M played over the loudspeaker at the start of the service.
Loved ones and fellow paramedics filed into the University of Wollongong with the formal ceremony beginning at 11am.
Ambulance and police helicopters flew overhead as paramedics formed a guard of honour to escort Steven’s hearse to the venue.
NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dr Dominic Morgan will posthumously present the 29-year-old with a list of honours including a pandemic service medal and national medal.
Dad calls for harsher penalties for attacks on emergency workers
Heartbreaking scenes played out two weeks ago when more than 20 members of his family visited the scene of his death.
They lay flowers over the mountain of tributes placed by mourners and before sharing an emotional tribute to their “hero”.
His wife Madison and mother Jillian burst into tears after Mr Tougher lost his composure thanking emergency workers who put themselves in danger to try to save his son.
The young couple were married in March and were expecting their second child, a baby girl, to be born in a few weeks time.
His father is leading the charge for stronger laws to protect emergency workers and ensure what happened to his son never happens again.
“I hope that the loss of Steven will not be for nothing, and that is senseless act. can be a catalyst for change, to support better working conditions for his brothers and sisters in blue,” he told reporters at the time.
“Nobody deserves the grief that this event has brought forward.”
He said he wants mandatory life sentences for offenders found guilty of killing emergency workers.
Jordan Fineanganofo, 21, has been charged with his murder and will face court again in June.