Last Bus Out

by Beck McDowell

Last Bus Out tells how Courtney Miles charged past a police roadblock and argued with a National Guardsman who threatened to lock him in the makeshift jail at the Greyhound Bus Station. Sick with worry about his missing grandmother, he drove his passengers to safety, then went back into the city at midnight to help others. His adventure would ultimately lead to starting his life over on the opposite end of the country, far away from the three women he loves – the mother who abused him, the grandmother who taught him how to survive, and the girlfriend who would betray him.

Last Bus Out chronicles Courtney’s life alone while his mother was repeatedly jailed for selling drugs. At seven he woke up with a gun in his face on Christmas Eve. At thirteen he witnessed the murder of a man three feet away from him. As a high school junior he lived alone in an empty house without electricity or water. Courted by gangs who knew he was hungry, “Streets,” as he was nicknamed for his solitary life on the streets, lived apart and kept his record clean – until the day he risked his freedom to save his neighbors.

Courtney’s passengers describe hacking their way through attics, fighting rats and snakes for dry roof space, wading past bloated bodies in toxic waters, and searching for missing family members while grieving for loved ones lost.


READ the TRUE STORY of Courtney Miles’ dramatic rescue of over 300 people in the storm’s aftermath. While government officials posed for cameras, a boy from the projects with no driver’s license stepped up and showed what “drive” is all about.

The Story

Beck McDowell is a high school teacher and New Orleans native who spent two years interviewing Courtney and others and retracing the bus route. She wrote LAST BUS OUT to honor those who, like Courtney, fought depression, fear, and anger to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Katrina. In the words of Euripides, “There is no greater loss than the loss of one’s homeland.”

For interviews, email Beck McDowell at

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The Author