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Mattapan hit-and-run victim ‘was a hero to a lot of us’

Police investigated at the scene of the fatal hit-and-run on Thursday.
Police investigated at the scene of the fatal hit-and-run on Thursday.Danny McDonald/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

A Mattapan woman struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver Thursday afternoon was remembered by heartbroken neighbors Saturday as a loving, generous woman who would donate her food and clothing to anyone who needed help.

Brenda Lee Keller, 57, was hit by a car near Fottler and Hiawatha roads at 3:22 p.m., the department said Saturday in a statement that identified Keller as the victim.

Keller was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

“She was one of the best people I met in a long time,” said Carolyn Branch, who lived in the same Tennis Road apartment building as Keller for more than three years. “I know she is in a better place. She is definitely up there in heaven.”

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Police are seeking the public’s help to identify the vehicle and driver that struck Keller.

At the time of the crash, a black sedan was seen traveling on Hiawatha Road toward Blue Hill Avenue, police said.

The car’s driver, last seen walking away from the scene toward Tennis Road, was described as a “black female with a heavy build and long hair, wearing a white shirt and black pants,” police said in the statement.

Keller was known in the area for giving out food from her own refrigerator to nearby residents, said Branch, 54, who goes by the nickname Purple.

One time, Keller pulled a coat from her own closet to give to a woman who was cold, Branch said.

“She died doing a good job,” Branch said. “She was a hero to a lot of us out here.”

Branch said her neighbor was a good person who never caused any problems.

“She was really nice, she was good to everybody,” she said.

Branch recognized a photo of a grinning Keller displayed on a smartphone.

“She always had that smile,” Branch said.

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Outside the Tennis Road apartment building where Keller lived, Branch and another resident were outraged by news reports that the driver who police said struck Keller on Thursday left the scene.

“You know what you did,” Branch said of the driver. “They have to know they ran over a person.”

The other resident, who knew Keller for 12 years, compared Keller to family.

“She was a sweetheart with a heart of gold,” the woman said, before entering the building. “She looked out for everybody.”

Branch said she saw the aftermath of the crash and watched as responders carried Keller’s body away. She asked them to be gentle, she recalled, to treat Keller with respect.

“She did not deserve this,” Branch said, tears in her eyes.

Anyone with information about the crash is urged to contact Boston police homicide detectives at 617-343-4470, or the department’s CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS or by texting the word “TIP” to CRIME (27463).


Globe correspondent Lucas Phillips contributed to this report. John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard @globe.com.