NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Three small children escaped injury Monday when the pickup truck in which they were passengers crashed on Long Island.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, police said the children were not seat-belted, and said the man behind the wheel was drunk.

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Witnesses appeared in incredulous at the incident, which happened around 10:45 p.m. Saturday in New Hyde Park.

“No car seats – it’s crazy,” one man said.

“I thought it was coming through our house – that’s how loud it was,” a woman said.

Timothy McAleavey, 52, of Stewart Manor, was accused of driving drunk and endangering young children in his care.

McAleavey, whose house is across the street from the local elementary school, allegedly crashed his pickup truck into two cars at the intersection of Covert and 11th avenues, near the Long Island Rail Road tracks, police said.

The crash scene is around the corner from McAleavey’s home, and adjacent to school property, McLogan reported.

First responders discovered three small children – ages 1, 2 and 4 – in the back of his 2003 Ford pickup truck, police said. The children were not wearing seat belts or child restraints and were not in infant seats, police said.

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“The potential for disaster was here,” said Nassau County police Inspector Kenneth Lack. “DWI is incredibly dangerous, but when you compound this fact with the three young children in the car, it just means a tragedy waiting to happen.”

McAleavey was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated under Leandra’s Law, and endangering the welfare of the three children. He was also cited with having excessive tinted windows, and three counts having of rear passengers under the age of 4 unrestrained.

McAleavey’s family supports him.

“He’s a loving guy — that’s all he could say,” one man said. When asked about the alleged crimes, the man said, “I have no clue.”

The children were released to their mother, who as a passenger in the front seat.

Drunken driving laws are enhanced with child passengers.

“It’s dangerous, it’s deadly and it’s menace, and in law enforcement, we take that seriously, and that’s why we fought very hard to pass Leandra’s Law,” said Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.

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McAleavey pleaded not guilty to the charges. His attorney called the charges exaggerated, and said the truth will come out during the suspect’s next court appearance next month.