A 12-year-old boy is fighting for his life at the Hospital for Sick Children after a vehicle struck him as he tried to dart across Lawrence Avenue West during the noon hour.

"It appears he was taking a chance, running across the red (light)," Const. Hugh Smith of the Toronto Police Service's traffic unit told ctvtoronto.ca on Thursday.

According to witness information, two boys had tried to cross as the light was turning red. It  happened at Lawrence Avenue West and Culford Road, near Keele Street at about 12:30 p.m., he said.

Both boys are students at Amesbury Middle School and were returning there.

The 11-year-old made it safely as a Plymouth Voyageur minivan was heading eastbound on a green light.

"The 12-year-old was following just slightly behind. He got struck by the van, dragged about 80 feet eastbound, was pinned there underneath the van for quite a while -- 10 to 12 minutes," Smith said.

A tow truck came to the scene and lifted the vehicle so that Toronto EMS paramedics could reach the boy and take him to hospital for treatment of head and back injuries.

Smith said weather conditions were overcast with a light drizzle, which could have affected stopping distance.

The van's driver remained at the scene and is co-operating with investigators who are attempting to reconstruct the accident. Other people stopped to offer assistance.

However, if anyone saw what happened, Smith asked them to call Traffic Services at 416-808-1900.

Smith said the last three weeks have been bad for pedestrian accidents.

"We have these little blips at this time of year when Daylight Savings Time ends and we hit these darker hours," he said. "And the pedestrian attitude doesn't change with regard to the environment."