Legendary baseball star Roberto Clemente spent much of his time involved in charity work. Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, was struck by a massive earthquake on December 23, 1972. Clemente arranged emergency relief flights. He soon learned, however, that the aid packages on the first three flights had been diverted by corrupt officials of the Somoza government, never reaching victims of the quake.
Clemente decided to accompany the fourth relief flight, hoping that his presence would ensure that the aid would be delivered to the survivors. The airplane he chartered, a Douglas DC-7 cargo plane, had a history of mechanical problems. It had an insufficient number of flight personnel, was overloaded by 4,200 pounds, and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico immediately after takeoff due to engine failure.