He was still going strong on the field and won the World Series MVP in 1971. In 1972, a major earthquake hit Nicaragua and Roberto began putting together relief aid for the survivors. The supplies off the first three planes were stolen by government officials so Roberto travelled on the fourth cargo plane out of Puerto Rico, hoping to prevent it from happening again. Shortly after takeoff on New Year's Eve, the plane experienced mechanical failure and crashed in the ocean.
The number of people attending his funeral was massive and all the Pittsburgh Pirates' players were there with the exception of one, the team's catcher. They never did find Roberto's body, so his teammate was busy diving in the ocean in an attempt to find his body.
Roberto died at the age of 38 and left behind his wife and three children. He was an extraordinary player and an even greater human being.