A NSW Ambulance paramedic who was stabbed to death during his morning coffee at McDonalds has been identified as a father days away from welcoming a new child.
Steven Tougher, 29, along with a colleague drove into the parking lot of Queen St, Campbelltown restaurant in southwest Sydney early Friday morning before the end of their night shift.
At around 5:30am, NSW Police received a code one call from the paramedics when Mr Tougher was stabbed repeatedly in the abdomen.
Mr. Tougher had only become a paramedic last year. It is clear that he was completing paperwork when he was brutally attacked.
His tragic death comes just five weeks after Mr. Tougher married his wife Madison in mid-March.
He was about to go on paternity leave leading up to the birth of their new baby.
a GoFundMe for Mr. Tougher’s widow has been created by her colleagues to help support her and their family.
NSW paramedic Steven Tougher (above) was stabbed to death outside a McDonalds in southwest Sydney early Friday morning
Mr Tougher (right) married the love of his life, Madison (left) in mid-March, and the couple are expecting a baby in the coming weeks
NSW Police received a code one call at about 5:30am on Friday when Mr Tougher was stabbed repeatedly in the abdomen (pictured, police at the scene on Friday)
“Madison is having her second child in a few weeks,” the fundraiser reads.
“We hope that all funds raised through this platform will support Madison and her family during this extremely difficult time.
“We extend our deepest condolences to Madison and her young family. We’re thinking about you.’
The fundraiser raised more than $51,000 in four hours.
The added page Mr. Tougher’s family has requested privacy.
Police reportedly arrived within minutes of receiving the emergency call on Friday and Mr Tougher was rushed to Liverpool Hospital where he later died.
NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan met Madison in the hours following the attack, as well as Mr Tougher’s mother, father and sister and said they were ‘beside themselves’.
He said Mr. Tougher’s father had told him that he knew from the age of five that he wanted to be a paramedic.
“He wanted nothing more than to serve his community,” Commissioner Morgan said.
‘He was with us for a relatively short time and had recently learned that he had been transferred back to south-west Sydney.
“I was told he was so happy to be able to stay here and raise his family.”
NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan met with the family of Madison and Mr Tougher in the hours following the attack and was sad that they were ‘beside themselves’ (pictured, Steven and Madison Tougher on their wedding day in mid-March)
Police tasered and arrested a 21-year-old man after the attack (pictured, police on scene Friday morning)
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also expressed his condolences to Mr Tougher’s family and called for more respect for paramedics.
“The death of a paramedic in Sydney this morning is as shocking as it is tragic,” he said.
“All Australians extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to his loved ones, friends and colleagues.
“For any frontline worker, you are valued. You keep us safe. You deserve to work safely.’
Mr Tougher became a paramedic trainee in May 2022. Prior to that, he worked as a registered nurse at Wollongong Hospital.
He studied medicine at Charles Sturt University, where he chaired the online Student Representative Committee.
Former colleague and Wollongong nurse Tanya Selak shared a heartbreaking tribute to Mr Tougher.
“Before he was a paramedic, Steven Tougher was our nurse anesthetist,” she said.
Kind, gentle, optimistic, warm. Our patients loved his cheeky grin.
“Our Wollongong community is numb, shocked and devastated. I can not believe it. Thinking of his family during this terrible time.
“Calm down, buddy.”
The death of the 29-year-old father has sparked a huge wave of grief in the health care sector, which believes selfless workers should not risk their safety on the job.
Devastated ex-paramedic Scott Fogarty told Daily Mail Australia: ‘I didn’t know him personally, but I’m a retired medical paramedic from Campbelltown station and my colleagues mean everything to me.
“It’s just devastating. We go to work helping people in need and all we want is to go home in one piece to our families.”
Mr Fogarty left a heartfelt letter at the makeshift McDonalds memorial next to a bunch of flowers.
He wrote that Mr. Tougher had ‘paid the ultimate price’ and highlighted the harrowing scenes witnessed by many paramedics.
“We know the dangers and are unfortunately exposed to those dangers far too often,” the letter reads.
“Unfortunately for this young man, his duty and career have ended much too soon because of what we all fear on duty.
“I am absolutely devastated, angry and heartbroken for my paramedic brother.
‘Prayers for you brother, your service is over, rest in peace!’
Mr Tougher (pictured with his wife) 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
Retired paramedic Scott Fogarty (above) laid flowers and a letter of solidarity at the scene of the stabbing in Campbelltown on Friday
A 21-year-old man was tasered after the attack and arrested at the scene and taken to Campbelltown Police Station. He has yet to be charged.
It is believed that police will claim that Mr. Tougher was in the back of an ambulance when the knifeman opened the sliding door and stabbed him several times.
Deputy Commissioner Lanyon said the 21-year-old man may have been driving a blue Honda Jazz Civic in the Ingleburn and Campbelltown areas prior to the incident and urged the public to come forward if they had seen the vehicle.
When asked if the man in custody was known to police, Mr Lanyon said: ‘He is only known to us through a few interactions.’
Police cordoned off a crime scene at the McDonalds and urged the public to avoid the area.
Just after 11 a.m., two men were allowed to leave the cordon, one of whom turned out to be the manager of McDonald’s.
He said he was told not to talk to the media, but when asked if the paramedic would be okay, he said, “We don’t know.”
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.”
The death of Mr Tougher (above) has sparked a wave of grief among healthcare workers who say they shouldn’t risk their lives on the job
It is believed that police will claim Mr Tougher was in the back of an ambulance when the knife man opened the sliding door and stabbed him several times (pictured, police on scene)
Ms Pearce said the state’s health system has been through a lot in recent years and she is proud of all the workers who continue to show up every day to help other members of the community.
NSW Premier Chris Minns said the stabbing was a “terrible situation” for emergency services.
“It’s a reminder that it’s a very difficult and dangerous job,” he said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.