On her first day on the job, a truck driver carrying hot asphalt lost control of her 10-wheel dump truck and launched through a guardrail on Mount Rose Highway just after 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Kristel Marie Hart, 36, of Reno was lucky to survive the accident, troopers said.
"The lack of skid marks indicate she either lost her brakes or she fell asleep," said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen.
Investigators said they believe the accident was caused by loss of brakes or failure to engage a gear on the 1987 Peterbilt three-axle vehicle owned by Sierra Dirt Works of Fallon.
Medics removed Hart from the truck and flew her by Care Flight to Washoe Medical Center in Reno.
She had severe-to-moderate injures, including cuts to the face, Allen said.
Hart was driving down Mount Rose Highway when she crossed into oncoming traffic and broke through the guard rail. The vehicle struck three trees and crashed 150 feet down an embankment from the road.
The dump bed of the truck detached and continued down the slope another 100 feet, according to troopers. Because the vehicle went down the embankment, traffic was not blocked for long in either direction, Allen said.
No citations have been issued pending the investigation, Allen said.