The truck driver who killed four people including himself on Nov. 14 when his semitrailer plowed into stalled traffic on Interstate 70 never attempted to stop.

Following an extensive investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the reasons why remain unknown.

Crash investigator Sgt. P.W. Meyers wrote in findings released last week under a Sunshine Law request that the highway patrol was not able to conclude why 63-year-old trucker Otto Kramer did not heed numerous warnings that traffic ahead was at a standstill due to a tractor-trailer fire on the roadway.

“For an unknown reason, (Kramer) failed to react to slowing and stopped traffic on westbound Interstate 70,” Meyers wrote. “Missouri Department of Transportation signs had been set to warn motorists of the traffic situation ahead of them. Trooper (Gary) Gundy also positioned himself on the north shoulder with his patrol vehicle’s emergency lights activated and holding a ‘slow’ sign out his driver window to further warn motorists.”

Meyer wrote that the stopped traffic would have caused numerous vehicles to have their brake lights illuminated. Investigators found, however, that Kramer’s semitruck was traveling at 57 miles per hour when it hit the first of three vehicles it collided with near the 131 mile marker just east of Columbia.

“Although (Kramer) yielded appropriately to Trooper Gundy’s patrol vehicle, there is no indication he attempted to avoid the crash,” Meyer wrote. “He drove into the slow moving and stopped traffic causing the multiple vehicle collision.”

The report stated that investigators were not able to conclude if distracted driving was a factor and nothing indicated he was driving under the influence. A witness, whose name was redacted in the report, told the patrol Kramer was driving erratically leading up to the crash.

“I don't know what was going on with him,” the witness told investigators. “I moved over to the left lane 'cause I could see him coming and I was saying, ‘Let me see some brake lights, let me see some brake lights,’ but he never even hit the brakes and slammed right into those little cars just sitting there.

“I hate to say it but it could have been a lot worse if that tractor-trailer hadn't been there to stop him."

The tractor-trailer Kramer was driving collided first with the rear of a Buick sedan. The impact caused the Buick to careen forward and into the median. Kramer continued forward, striking a Ford sedan, crushing it between his truck and the tractor-trailer that finally stopped him.

In addition to Kramer, of Pickerington, Ohio, three local residents were killed in the crash. Sisters Vicky S. Moore, 60, and Cindy L. Spradlin, 63, of Auxvasse were killed, as was Jennifer L. Temple, 44, of Columbia.

National statistics show that between 2007 and 2017 about 40,000 people were killed in crashes involving trucks, according to U.S. Department of Transportation reports. In 2017, 4,761 people were killed nationwide, with 111 of those in Missouri.

The National Transportation Safety Board, an independent federal agency which investigates and reports on a variety of accidents, recommended commercial carriers mandate forward crash avoidance systems to reduce the number of rear-end collisions, similar to the November crash on I-70.

The NTSB in its report stated that between 2012 and 2014 almost half of all two-vehicle crashes were rear-end collisions. In those, 87 percent involved a driver failing to pay attention to the road ahead. According to a news release accompanying the report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has failed to adopt those standards.

“However, slow and insufficient action on the part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop performance standards for these technologies and require them in passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as a lack of incentives for manufacturers, has contributed to the ongoing and unacceptable frequency of rear-end crashes,” the NTSB news release reads.

Tom Crawford, president and CEO of the Missouri Trucking Association, said those systems come in a variety of technologies — GPS based, land radar based and camera based — but the costs have caused the industry to balk. The systems can cost between $2,500 and $4,000 per truck, according to NHTSA estimates.

“Quite frankly a lot of it just comes down to costs,” Crawford said. “Obviously hindsight is 20-20 and the costs of putting something on to avoid an accident is tough to provide for, until you have one. Then you realize what you could have saved. Not just dollars, but lives.”

The highway patrol’s investigative report also shows Kramer had issues in his driving record, including four accidents since 2011, with two of those involving a commercial vehicle. He also had eight prior moving violations, but the report did not state the nature of his offenses.

Kramer also reported in his daily logs being sick on Nov. 14, the day of the crash, and two days prior. It’s not clear if he reported his illness to Active USA LLC, the company Kramer worked for. Active USA LLC through its attorney declined to comment for this article.

According to NHTSA reports, Active USA employs 412 drivers, who together had 62 violations in the past 24 months and were involved in 23 crashes. Two of those, including the November crash, resulted in fatalities, and seven resulted in injuries.

Columbia truck accident attorney Mike Campbell, when provided with some of those details Thursday, said it fits a pattern of trucking companies putting questionable drivers behind the wheel to maximize profits in light of a shortage of qualified applicants.

“In my experience, there is a systemic failure in the trucking companies to catch these things," Campbell said. "Unfortunately what happens is someone like me has to come in on the tail end and ask what happened, why did this happen? Because these people are not being held criminally responsible.

“The driver is, but the people who allowed that driver to take that big rig down the road are just going to be held civilly responsible.”