A big-rig truck driver who died in a crash that closed Highway 37 east of Lakeville Highway for eight hours was identified Thursday as Eric Dante Alexander, 43, of Tulare, Sonoma County coroner’s officials said.

The crash occurred on eastbound Highway 37 at about 3:40 p.m. Wednesday, causing major traffic backups as officers directed motorists away from the crash. Authorities eventually shut down the highway completely from about 6 p.m. until midnight. Caltrans lifted a Sig Alert advisory for the area at 12:15 a.m.

Alexander was behind the wheel of a 2012 Freightliner towing a tanker trailer hauling vinegar and driving east at about 50 mph when he approached sitting traffic but did not stop, CHP Officer Andrew Barclay said.

Traffic frequently slows and stops in the area of Highway 37 near Lakeville Highway as the road funnels down to two lanes, Barclay said. He said officers still were investigating why Alexander didn’t stop.

His Freightliner truck slammed into the back of a 2011 Mack big-rig truck towing two empty liquid container trailers, causing a chain reaction crash with three other vehicles ahead, officials said.

The cab of Alexander’s truck became detached from the chassis and was thrown onto the right shoulder. Paramedics pronounced Alexander dead at the scene.

The driver of the Mack truck, 56-year-old Jagtar Singh of Pittsburg in Contra Costa County, was uninjured, and was able to get out of his truck.

The collision caused major damage to three additional vehicles: a 2008 Toyota Corolla driven by Matthew Elias, 28, of Valley Ford; a 1996 Jeep Cherokee driven by Charles Fordyce, 19, of Vallejo; and a 2000 Honda Accord driven by Jessica Seawater, 30, of Citrus Heights.

Barclay said the drivers were uninjured, and although several people involved in the crash complained they were experiencing pain, no one was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Officers directed eastbound traffic onto the center divider to get around the crash site, until both directions of Highway 37 were completely shut down at 6 p.m.

For another six hours, Caltrans crews worked at cleared debris and spilled diesel, the CHP said.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.