02/04/2005 at 03:00 PM EST
While John Phipps was trapped and bleeding in the rubble of the train wreck that killed 11 people outside Los Angeles last week, he managed to scrawl a note to his family – with his own blood.
On an upended seat in front of him Phipps scrawled: "I (heart symbol) my kids. I (heart symbol) Leslie."
Phipps came forward Thursday to talk about what he believed would be his last moments: "I don't know why I did it. I didn't think they would see it," he said about the message.
Phipps, who sustained injuries to his head and groin and had internal bleeding, said after the crash he touched the back of his head and found his hands covered with blood. Reaching out, he felt a chair and saw his bloody handprint, then decided to write the message.
The 44-year-old, who works for an aerospace plant, has three kids: a daughter Shara, 22, and two sons, Jeremy, 19, and Josh, 15. His wife Leslie, said she had mixed feelings about the message her husband managed to write. "Hallmark is never going to top that," she said. "It's moving, it's thoughtful and it's chilling all at the same time."
Phipps was eventually pulled from the wreck by rescuers, but that he survived is amazing. Two of the people who were killed in the accident on Jan. 26 were only feet from him.
Juan Manuel Alvarez, a suicidal man who allegedly parked his car on the tracks and caused the train wreck, is charged with 11 counts of murder.