Waterloo regional police have confirmed a 12-year-old boy from Guelph has died following a crash near Cambridge that involved three vehicles.

Emergency crews were called to the scene in the area of Sprague Road and Shouldice Side Road in North Dumfries Township around 4:30 p.m.

Christine Jonker, who lives nearby, said she came across the collision scene while out for a walk.

"It broke my heart," she said. "There's a family that's been destroyed."

Police say a 43-year-old woman from Guelph was driving a van with four people in it east on Sprague when it was hit by an SUV heading north on Shouldice.

Shortly after the two vehicles collided, another SUV hit the two at the intersection, according to officials.

Three people in the van and the 17-year-old Cambridge male who was driving the first SUV were taken to hospital.

Police say the boy, who was a passenger in the van, later succumbed to his injuries at Cambridge Memorial Hospital.

"Despite officer's attempts at life-saving measures, a 12-year-old male was pronounced deceased," police said in a social media post on Monday morning.

"It's difficult for everybody," said Robert Crossan, deputy chief for the Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services. "It's often a couple of days afterwards that the gravity of it really hits you."

Roads in the area were closed for hours and drivers were asked to find alternate routes.

Police are continuing to investigate the cause of the crash and have not said if any charges will be laid.

Crossan said there are supports in place to help first responders, including paramedics and police.

"It's really hard usually at these scenes," he said.