Of the three Knik tactical divers, I’ve only met one — Laddie Shaw. I wish the circumstances had been better: we were at the funeral of Walter Gilmour. Still, the man I met matched the indelible image engraved by Gilmour; Shaw is a wiry bundle of energy and get-it-done intensity who is friendly, open and unassuming.
Shaw is also an ex-Navy SEAL who served in ‘Nam. They don’t make ’em any tougher. Just the right man for the job of finding human remains in the silt of Robert Hansen’s callous disregard for just about everything.
Knik River Railroad Bridge
3/9/84: The Tactical Dive Unit consisting of LADDIE SHAW, Sergeant DON SAVAGE and Trooper MIKE DEKREON conducted a search of the Knik River under the railroad bridge in the vicinity of Mile 30.4 on the Glenn Highway. The bottom search was conducted between the south three sections, to the bank, using a straight line method in addition to individual search. The water depth averaged 12 to 20 inches with a maximum depth of approximately four feet. The bottom was made up of a top layer (approximately four to six inches) of silt with an underlying layer of gravel/silt mix.
It was noted that over the previous year the tide change has been in excess of six feet and with the season changes in weather and fluence, the bottom gradient of the Knik River had made a dramatic change in movement of sand bars, bottom composition, etc. The river was extremely clear with very little debris, including no logs, large branches, however, due to the tidal changes and the amount of silt build up it would be necessary to research the area perhaps late in the fall after the spring run off is concluded.
Laddie Shaw, Navy SEAL
Don Savage (After retiring from the AST, Savage was Wasilla Chief of Police)
Purchase Butcher, Baker