A Wisconsin campground owner ignited intense backlash for the message she posted on Facebook after a 5-year-old child drowned on the property.
The now edited Facebook message, which announced the child's death and later moves on to advertise vacancies at the campground, was called insensitive self-promotion by several commenters on Facebook.
At the center of the controversy is Ann Retzlaff, the owner of Annie's Campground in Gresham, Wisconsin. After the child drowned on Friday night, Retzlaff took a moment to pen a lengthy post that included advertising her campground.
The edited version still began by stating the child was "in a better place."
"This post is intended for Lovers of Freedom, who believe in God, who are helpful to others and who are supportive of the Truth."
"Know that Little Man is in a much better place filled with the Loving Arms of our Lord, Jesus the Christ."
"May God's White Light Shine upon the Campground and the many loving families here to appreciate our Freedom that we must still fight to keep."
"BE the voice and Protector of those innocent ones who can not Protect and Defend themselves."
Then Retzlaff moved on to add an excuse for her earlier post.
"As I now have time to review some of these horrible, hateful, careless posts from miserable people, and probably from people who were not here, who did not witness anything surrounding the tragedy this weekend, who would not normally camp anyway, this added message is for you:"
"As we were going around and talking to our customers here over the weekend, many families wanted to be with their loved ones and hold them close, especially if they had children /grandchildren around the same age as Little Marshall."
"Facebook was the most expedient way for me to get the word out to those supportive people to know that we had openings during a very busy holiday weekend."
Retzlaff then claimed they were still trying to find the child's family when she made her original post letting people know she had vacancies.
"It is very unfortunate that the haters came at me and my business again and completely ignored the fact of the grieving people here while we actively searched for the parents and family members of the child."
"I know that regardless of what I post, you haters will pounce on it.:
"May God raise you above the level of grossly despicable."
"STAY OFF MY PAGE!"
She then added another plug for her business, including the phone number and website.
"We do have some availability: please stop in the office or call or book online."
Facebook took umbrage over her response to the child's drowning.
WFRV asked Retzlaff what she thought of the Facebook backlash.
You can see local news coverage here:
She claimed to have barely noticed.
"I have not had time to look at any of the social media posts so I'm not even sure what you are referencing."
When Retzlaff was shown the comments, she made herself the victim.
"From the hurtful hateful comments that continue to come my way after everything I post."
"I could post that it's blue skies and sunshine today and the haters would jump on my page and hate me and say hurtful things."
Retzlaff's dismissal likely stemmed from the repeated criticism she's received over the last year, as she's posted rightwing rhetoric and insisted on remaining open and ignore public health protocols throughout the pandemic.
Regardless of what has happened in the Facebook universe, the drowning is being investigated by the local Sheriff's Office.