The children were waiting in the van to be ferried home.
But it suddenly reversed and slid into a septic pond at Taman Universiti, Johor Baru, on Monday morning.
Mr Mohamad Hanafi Jaafar, 46, who lives nearby, told The Star that he rushed out to help kindergarten helper Musliza Kasun stop the van from sliding, but failed.
He then jumped into the pond to help pull the children out.
He managed to help get six children from the van, but one of the six died, the report said.
Said Mr Mohamad Hanafi: "With the help of neighbours, I managed to pull out five children. But, to our horror, there was one child still inside the sinking van."
Muhammad Azri Aqif, five, the youngest of three siblings, was pulled out, but died while being taken to the clinic.
Ms Musliza, 35, said she had been helping the six children into the van when it suddenly started to reverse.
"It all happened so fast," she recalled.
"I tried my best to prevent the van from sliding by holding onto the door. But I just could not stop it.
"Parents waiting to pick up their children at the kindergarten came to my aid, but we could only watch helplessly as the van crashed through the gate leading to the pond."
GIRL IN CRITICAL CONDITION
Another child, Nur Aima Abd Razak, also five, was admitted to the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in a critical condition.
The girl's father said his daughter was unconscious.
Teacher Siti Nora Daim, 33, who was also at the hospital, said the incident occurred minutes after she had finished for the day.
Muhammad Azri's father Azhar Yusoff, 37, said the boy would be taken to their hometown in Kuala Terengganu for burial.
Johor Baru (North) Assistant Commissioner Mohd Khamsani Abd Rahman said initial investigations revealed that the van was parked and the woman driver was outside the vehicle when it suddenly slid down.
She has been held for questioning.
This article was published on April 16 in The New Paper.
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