Is this story fact, or fiction?  Let's start with the original story.  Typically, kids spending inordinate amounts of time on the computer is deemed useless by the majority of people, including myself.  This is one of those rare cases in which a kid who decided to veg out on the computer accomplished something incredible.  As this kid from Minnesota was looking around on Google Earth, something caught his eye.  He saw an "SOS" dug into the sand of a small, deserted island.  He had located a woman that had been stranded on an island since 2007!  Sounds pretty amazing, right!?  The question is, is this a real story, or a hoax?

The story began 7 years ago, when Gemma Sheridan and 2 of her friends left their hometown of Liverpool on a trip to Hawaii on her sailboat.  They were to travel across the Atlantic, to the Panama Canal, and onwards to Hawaii.

"The first stage of the voyage went without incident. However, after passing through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific, things started to take a turn for the worse. There was a huge storm that took out the boats electronics and washed her 2 friends overboard and seriously damaged her boat. Without any electronics and with a damaged boat, Gemma drifted for 17 days until she was hit by another major storm. During the storm, Gemma was knocked unconscious and the rest is history."
Gemma had survived the disaster, awaking on a beach, surrounded by the wreckage of her boat.
She endured, learning to survive, and never giving up hope.  She kept a large SOS carved in the sand of the beach, in hopes a plane would fly over and see it.  She kept the SOS in the sand carved for 7 years, even though she never saw a plane the entire time she was there.
"Fast forward a couple more years: I woke up 1 morning to the sound of a plane flying over me which was unusually low, I could not believe it, I thought it was a dream. I ran to the beach screaming and waving my arms like a lunatic, the plane flew over 2 or 3 more times and then dropped a small package. Inside was a radio, fresh water, food and a small medical kit. I switched on the radio and heard the first human voice for years. We talked for what seemed like an eternity, then I asked the voice on the other end "How did you find me" to which they replied "Some kid from Minnesota found your SOS sign on Google Earth"
That pretty much wraps up the story from News Hound, and it inspired so many.  Many people shared the story, inspired by the story of struggle and hope by Gemma.  But, is it even a "real" story?  Is there any truth to it?  The Epoch Times says no.

"Gemma Sheridan, a name that was used in a viral fake article about Google Earth being used to find a woman on a deserted island, is a real person, and she said that her friends made up the story about her and posted it on a hoax news website."

According to a website that debunks fake stories and hoaxes, the SOS sign that was used in the picture on News Hound was actually taken in 2010 during unrest in Kyrgyzstan.

Epoch Times

"Sheridan said on Saturday that is run by some of her friends. She said they made the “Google Earth” story up about her as a joke.

“Hi Howard My friend owns newshound so I think they may have made this up about me as a joke haha,” Sheridan Tweeted.

Regarding the article, hoax-debunking site Snopes says: “First of all, the NewsHound web site is not a news site at all, and it has, in place of news, reproduced a number of other hoaxes and spoofs as if they were real news, such as long-debunked stories about a Chinese man suing his wife over giving birth to an ugly baby, Apple paying Microsoft [sic] a $1 billion debt all in nickels, and a planetary alignment causing gravity on Earth to be negated for five minutes.”

As we end this story, some may have a feeling of upset.  However, we end this story with truth!  It was a hoax, good story, but a hoax none the less...

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